OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION: The Executive Branch’s Response to the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Is Unacceptable 

(WASHINGTON – December 4, 2018) – There exist certain universal edicts that transcend the laws espoused by all sovereign nations. One such edict is “thou shall not kill.”  Modern laws translate this edict into “thou shall not kill without justification”.  On several occasions, the United States has intervened and/or publicly condemned unjustifiable actions of other sovereignties that violate universal edicts including those actions that equate to an affront on basic human rights. Based on all of the information released to date, the cold blooded slaying of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi appears to be without justification.

The Executive Branch of the Federal government has refused to condemn this senseless murder.  The Executive Branch ignores its own intelligence reports, and instead touts the billions of dollars the sovereign nation tied to this murder has spent and will likely continue to spend within the U.S. economy. The National Bar Association cannot and does not support turning a blind eye to such a grave act of injustice. This failure of leadership compromises not just the integrity of the Executive Branch but the entire democracy which serves as the foundation of the U.S. Government.

All lawyers, including members of the National Bar Association, are held to the highest ethical standards and recognize that engaging in acts that chip away at one’s integrity erodes the ability to protect the rule of law and sustain citizens’ confidence in the justice system.  To maintain the integrity of the legal profession, lawyers are, for example, mandated to condemn, punish and at times expel those who choose to disregard ethical rules and other professional responsibilities.   Each lawyer is charged with ensuring the sanctity of the profession.  These moments in history remind us to courageously stand firm in our duties to hold our colleagues to the highest ethical standards and to condemn clear wrongdoing. The National Bar Association expects the Executive Branch to hold its fellow sovereigns to the same moral and legal standard.  Without such resolve, the credibility and integrity built by the courageous deeds of past leaders will slowly erode.  Even when unpopular or against economic interests, certain truths must be spoken and not ignored.  The murder of Jamal Khashoggi without explanation or justification is a condemnable act and a clear violation of basic universal human rights.

*The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges. It represents the interests of approximately 60,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students, organized around 23 substantive law sections, nine divisions, 12 regions and 80 affiliate chapters nationally and globally.