(Buenos Aires) – The Argentine judiciary on November 28, 2018, took steps toward a formal investigation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s possible responsibility for war crimes in Yemen and alleged torture of Saudi citizens, Human Rights Watch said today. Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Buenos Aires for the G20 Summit on November 28.
Ramiro González, the federal prosecutor, formally asked Judge Ariel Lijo, an investigating federal judge assigned through a lottery, to examine the Human Rights Watch November 26 submission to request information from the Saudi and Yemeni governments about whether they are investigating the allegations. He also asked for the Foreign Ministry to provide information about the crown prince’s diplomatic status.
Following the prosecutor’s decision, Judge Lijo sent information requests to the Turkish and Yemeni governments and the International Criminal Court (ICC) inquiring about whether they are investigating the allegations. He also sent a request to the Argentine Foreign Ministry on the question of the crown prince’s immunity and diplomatic status. Neither Saudi Arabia nor Yemen are members of the ICC.
“The Argentine judiciary has sent a clear message that even powerful officials like Mohammed bin Salman are not above the law and will be scrutinized if implicated in grave international crimes,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “A cloud of suspicion will loom over the crown prince as he tries to rebuild his shattered reputation at the G20, and world leaders would do well to think twice before posing for pictures next to someone who may come under investigation for war crimes and torture.”
The Human Rights Watch submission described violations of international humanitarian law during the armed conflict in Yemen, for which Mohammed bin Salman may face criminal liability as Saudi Arabia’s defense minister. The submission also highlighted his possible complicity in alleged torture and other ill-treatment of Saudi citizens, including the murder and alleged torture of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.