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Saudi Arabia: Court of Appeal upholds 7-year sentence against writer Nadhir Al-Majid

2017-06-04

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received reports confirming that the Specialised Criminal Court of Appeal in Riyadh has upheld the seven-year prison sentence against Saudi writer Nadhir Al-Majid.

Three weeks ago, prison authorities informed Al-Majid that the Specialised Criminal Court of Appeal in Riyadh had upheld his sentence of seven years of imprisonment followed by a seven-year travel ban, in addition to a fine of 100,000 Saudi Rials (USD$26,663).

Al-Majid had attended the hearings in the case on his own without a lawyer as he perceived the trial as just a formality. He believes strongly that his trial did not follow the international standards of fair trials and due process.

He was transferred on 21 March 2017 from Al-Ha'ir prison in Riyadh to the Intelligence Prison in the city of Al-Damam.

On 18 January 2017, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment followed by seven years of a travel ban in addition to a fine of 100,000 Saudi Rials. Reports have confirmed that the writer was alone during the hearing and not accompanied by his family or his lawyer.

He faced many charges including failing to obey the ruler, participating in demonstrations, writing articles supporting protests (dating back to 2007), in addition to having contact with correspondents of foreign news agencies - namely Reuters, AFP, and CNN.

Al-Majid is a well-known 40-year-old writer and teacher who has published many articles in various Arabic newspapers and electronic websites.

GCHR believes that the arrest, detention, trial and seven-year prison sentence of Nadhir Al-Majid is solely related to his work in defence of human rights and in particular his defence of freedom of assembly in Saudi Arabia.

GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:

  1. Release Nadhir Al-Majid immediately and without any conditions and drop all charges against him;
  2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nadhir Al-Majid;
  3. Release all detained human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia; and
  4. Ensure in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and Internet activists in Saudi Arabia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment;

GCHR respectfully reminds the authorities in Saudi Arabia that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5 (a): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (a) To meet or assemble peacefully”, Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters“  and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threat, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.