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Saudi Arabia - The authorities imprison prominent human rights defenders Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid and Dr Mohammed Al-Qahtani and dissolve the Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA)

2013-03-11

On 9 March 2013 the eleventh hearing of the trial of Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid and Dr Mohammed Al Qahtani, the co-founders of the Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), was held at the Criminal Court in Riyadh, during which the presiding judge Hammad Al-Omar issued the following sentences and provisions:
1. Five years in prison for Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamed in addition to the 6 year sentence that he did not serve earlier in 2004 after a pardon, for allegedly breaching the conditions of his release. This brings the total sentence to eleven years.
2. 10 years in prison for Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani.
3. Preventing the defendants from travelling after the expiration of the term of imprisonment for duration equal to the number of years in prison for each one of them.
4. The immediate dissolution of the Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), stopping all its activities and the seizure of its assets for allegedly failing to obtain a permit.

The issuance of these sentences and provisions came after Dr. Al-Hamid and Dr Al-Qahtani were convicted of 12 alleged charges including "Refusing to submit to the will of the King", "Incitement" and "Communicating with foreign entities." The verdicts can be challenged during a period of thirty days from the date of 12 March 2013.

Dr. Al-Qahtani said after the adjudication, "I consider this ruling as a badge of honor", while Dr. Al-Hamid stated: "This trial demonstrated that the judiciary is not independent and we are proud of the imprisonment." The judge issued an order to imprison the two defenders and they were transferred to AlMalaz prison.

For more information please check our previous appeals on this matter through the following link:
http://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/3

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) deplores in the strongest terms the targeting of human rights defenders Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid and Dr. Mohammed Al-Qatari. They have courageously faced baseless charges attempting to obstruct their legitimate and peaceful human rights work, and silence their demands for social justice and necessary reforms. The GCHR also strongly denounces the ruling to disband the Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), in which the authorities claimed that it did not have the necessary permit in time. This is despite the authorities' refusal to grant civil society organizations such licenses whereby they are considered outlawed because of their work in the field of human rights. Once again the GCHR expresses grave concern about the expanded use of a politicized judiciary in Saudi Arabia in order to target human rights defenders and calls on the international community to intervene immediately to protect the human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defenders Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid and Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani and drop all charges against them as they were targeted solely because of their peaceful and legitimate human rights work;

2. The Immediate cancellation without any condition of the ruling to disband the Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA) as it has peaceful and legitimate activities, including writing reports on human rights violations, and helping the families of detainees;

3. Release all detained human rights defenders and drop all charges against them immediately and unconditionally;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in KSA are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

The 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, recognizes 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 (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, which provides that “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”.

Please write immediately in English or in Arabic:

1. To express your concern about the imprisonment of human rights defenders Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid and Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani and to call for their immediate release;

2. To urge the authorities in the Saudi Arabia to immediately stop the targeting of human rights defenders.

Please Send Appeals now TO:

King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud

The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques

Office of His Majesty the King

Royal Court, Riyadh

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax: +966 1 403 3125

 

Crown Prince and Minister of Defence & Aviation

His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin

Abdul Aziz Al Saud

Ministry of Defence and Aviation,

Airport Road

Riyadh 11165

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax: +966 1 401 1336