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Saudi Arabia- Human rights defender and editor Raef Badawi sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in addition to 1000 lashes and a fine of one million riyals
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is gravely concerned by the information it has received that human rights defender and editor Raef Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in addition to 1000 lashes, and a fine of one million Saudi riyals.
Raef Badawi is co-founder and editor of the website Liberal Saudi Network, which he set up with other human rights activists including the well-known human rights defender Suad Al- Shammari. The Liberal Saudi Network is a website and on-line forum created to foster political and social debate in Saudi Arabia.
On 29 July 2013, Raef Badawi was sentenced by the District Court in Jeddah to 7 years and 3 months imprisonment in addition to 600 lashes and the shutdown of the Web Site "The Liberal Saudi Network"after being convicted of charges that include setting up of a website that had the name of “liberal.” Raef Badawi was the subject of a previous urgent appeal by the GCHR at the time of the original conviction and sentencing. (for further information see: http://gc4hr.org/news/view/464).
On 12 December 2013, the Court of Appeals accepted an appeal of the sentence and sent back the case to the District Court in Jeddah. On 7 May 2014, the District Court in Jeddah, instead of releasing Raef Badawi, imposed a tougher new sentence on him. He was convicted of “insulting Islam” and setting up a website that has the name of Liberal Saudi Network.
The GCHR condemns the new sentence and penalty imposed on Raef Badawi, as the conviction is solely based on his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Saudi Arabia.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Raef Badawi;
2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Raef Badawi;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that 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, 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 (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, 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:
• To express your concern about the imprisonment of human rights defender Raef Badawi and to call for his immediate release;
• To urge the authorities in 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,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 401 1336