The complaint covers the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, and the detention of 34 journalists in the kingdom. RSF described the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia is “widespread and systematic”.
The 500-word complaint was filed in Germany, in the federal court of justice in Karlsruhe, because German laws give its courts jurisdiction over international crimes committed abroad, even without a German connection.
RSF hopes its complaint will ultimately lead to a formal prosecutorial investigation into whether the Saudi officials have committed crimes against humanity, said RSF Germany director Christian Mihr.
Christophe Deloire, the secretary-general of RSF, said: “These journalists are the victims of unlawful killing, torture, sexual violence and coercion and forced disappearance.”
He also said that “appropriate justice for Jamal has yet to be done.”
Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said: “The truth has been revealed but that is not enough. The murderer cannot be allowed to get away with it, otherwise it will happen again.”
Other officials named in the complaint include top aide to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, and Major General Ahmed al-Assiri, a former deputy intelligence chief.
The complaint comes days after a US intelligence report found the crown prince had approved the killing. The report’s findings were rejected by the Saudi government, which has denied any involvement by the crown prince.
Following the report, Ms Cengiz posted on Twitter that the crown prince “should be punished without delay.”
“If the crown prince is not punished, it will forever signal that the main culprit can get away with murder which will endanger us all and be a stain on our humanity,” she said.
The Biden administration has failed to make good on its campaign promise to make Saudia Arabia “pay the price” for human rights abuses and “make them in fact the pariah that they are,” by failing to impose sanctions on the crown prince himself, although sanctions have been imposed on other officials involved.
Biden administration officials said that U.S. interests in maintaining relations with Saudi Arabia forbid making a pariah of a young prince who may go on to rule the kingdom for decades.