WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Thursday released a statement following the Trump administration’s announcement of new sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act on Saudi Arabian officials in the aftermath of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Last month, Murphy joined colleagues U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with several other members in writing a letter to President Trump to trigger an investigation and Global Magnitsky sanctions determination regarding the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.
“The sanctions against individuals who murdered Jamal Khashoggi are a good first step, and I’m glad the administration is complying with the Global Magnitsky legislation. But strikingly absent from this announcement are the people – or the person – who ordered the attack. We can’t blindly accept the results of a Saudi-led inquiry to determine who to hold responsible. If the American response starts and ends with placing sanctions on a handful of low-level officials, we are letting Saudi Arabia off the hook for kidnapping and murdering a Washington Post writer. That’s unacceptable,” said Murphy.
“Throughout the Khashoggi aftermath and for three years in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has played the U.S. for fools. They routinely and intentionally murdered and starved innocent people and then lied or misled us, right to our faces. As I’ve been saying for years, the only acceptable response is to halt all offensive weapons sales and military support for the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. I will join several other colleagues to introduce a resolution in the coming weeks to do just that,” Murphy added.
Under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, the president upon receipt of a letter from the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee must make a determination to impose sanctions with respect to a foreign person responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights violations against individuals who seek to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote human rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression.
For years, Murphy has been a vocal critic of U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaigns in Yemen that has led to devastating humanitarian consequences and a security vacuum that has empowered terrorist groups. Murphy has repeatedly expressed concern that U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s military actions against Houthi rebels in Yemen threatens our own national security interests.
Last month, after Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey, Murphy reiterated his call for the suspension of military support for the Saudi-led campaign. He echoed his calls in an op-ed in the Washington Post.
In September, Murphy renewed his call to cease support for the Saudi-led campaign following a United Nations report that found continued human rights violations. Earlier this year, Murphy introduced an amendment to the FY 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations bill that would cut off United States’ support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s war in Yemen until the Secretary of Defense certified that the coalition’s air campaign is not violating international law and U.S. policy. Senate Republicans objected to voting on Murphy’s amendment. Murphy introduced similar legislation last year.
Murphy has introduced a bipartisan resolution with U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to end unauthorized U.S. military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. In June, Murphy and colleagues sent a letter calling on the Trump administration to take action before an attack on the port of Hudaydah.