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PHR Offers Forensic Expertise in Khashoggi Case and Calls for Independent International Investigation

Horrifying reports that a physician facilitated journalist’s alleged murder cast a gruesome shadow over the medical world

New York, NY

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is horrified by reports of the disappearance and possible murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post contributor, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, October 2. He has not been seen since, and reports of his gruesome killing have emerged, sending shockwaves around the world.

According to Turkish authorities and media reports, Khashoggi was tortured, killed, and dismembered inside the consulate by a team of 15 Saudis who had arrived in the Turkish city earlier that day. Among them, according to the reports, was Salah Mohammed al-Tubaigy, a Saudi forensic medical expert, who allegedly took part in the killing.

Dr. Nizam Peerwani, PHR medical expert and chief medical examiner for Tarrant County, Texas, stated: “As physicians, we are repulsed by the reports that a medical professional may have taken part in such a grotesque crime. The first rule of medicine is to do no harm. Every physician has taken a sacred oath to act for the good of the patient and to promote ethical standards in the society in which we live, and to be morally upstanding and accountable. The alleged role of Saudi forensic medical expert Mohammed al-Tubaigy calls for an international independent and impartial investigation. Should he be found to be complicit, the Saudi Forensic Medicine Board, of which al-Tubaigy is allegedly the head, must immediately pursue his removal from this position of power, as well as revoke his medical license. Crimes like these not only cast a shadow on the Saudi medical world, but on the integrity of the entire medical community.”

PHR echoes calls by United Nations special rapporteurs that an independent international investigation is the only way to get to the truth of what happened to Khashoggi. What is needed is a process that will lead to findings that are both objective and credible. PHR offers its expertise in scientific and forensic investigations, to review and assess the evidence related to Khashoggi’s disappearance, and to offer an evaluation as an independent expert organization. 

For decades, PHR has provided independent medical and forensic assessments of human rights violations for courts and tribunals and for victims and their families, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, the former Yugoslavia, and more. 

Any investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder must lead to accountability and punitive action. In the pursuit of truth and justice, PHR is willing and able to assist.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.