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Saudi Arabia: Human rights defender Omar Al-Hamid sentenced to three years in prison

2017-08-11

Saudi human rights defender Omar Al-Hamid has been sentenced to three years in prison under the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, following a hearing on 08 August 2017 by the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh.

The sentence is a primary ruling which Al-Hamid intends to appeal. It is related to a video he recorded two years ago and sent to a WhatsApp group in which he demanded the release of the detained members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). He was imprisoned in Al-Malaz prison in Riyadh about a year ago.

Al-Hamid is a young activist who is only 23 years of age. He is the nephew of three imprisoned human rights defenders - Abdullah Al-Hamid, Abdulrahman Al-Hamid, both members of ACPRA who are in prison serving sentences of ten and nine years respectively; in addition to Essa Al-Hamid, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison and whose trial is still ongoing.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the verdict against Omar Al-Hamid. GCHR believes that the ruling, which was issued after a mock trial that did not follow international standards and due process, is part of an ongoing trend adopted by the authorities, which includes the prosecution, arrest, torture, and judicial harassment of human rights defenders and online activists in the Kingdom.

GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally revoke the sentence against Omar Al-Hamid and drop all charges against him; and
  2. Immediately release all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia whose detention is a result of their peaceful and legitimate work in the promotion and protection of human rights.

GCHR respectfully reminds you 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 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (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, threats, 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.