Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, introduced legislation July 31 to hold the Saudi government accountable for the murder of U.S. legal resident and Washington Post editorial writer Jamal Khashoggi.
The Saudi Arabia Human Rights and Accountability Act of 2019 requires the director of national intelligence to submit a report identifying Saudi officials responsible for or complicit in the murder of Khashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018, while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Anyone identified in that report will be subject to U.S. visa sanctions and unable to travel or visit the U.S. until the Saudi government improves its human rights record. The legislation will also require the secretary of state to report on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, including its treatment of journalists, those who defend religious freedom, and advocates for women’s rights. The bill is a companion to an effort in the House led by Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-New Jersey, H.R. 2037, which was passed by the House 405-7 in July.
“We cannot let our foreign policy be dictated solely by narrow economic and security concerns,” said Coons. “Our values are equally if not more important than our interests. We have a long history with Saudi Arabia, but the president has failed to hold the country’s senior leadership to account for the horrendous murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This legislation will ensure the U.S. doesn’t turn a blind eye to egregious violations of human rights.”