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Saudi Arabia- Human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair subjected to ill-treatment and imprisoned with criminals

2014-07-21

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information that human rights defender Waleed Abu Al-Khair is being subjected to ill-treatment, poor conditions and treated like a criminal while in detention in Buraiman prison in Jeddah.

The human rights lawyer, and founder and director of Monitor for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA), is being held with criminals convicted of offences including robbery, drugs and prostitution despite the fact that he is a prisoner of conscience.

The conditions in the prison are extremely bad and the food is of poor quality.  He has been denied access to medical care and has not been provided with a special diet which he  requires due to his diabetes.

Furthermore, his wife, human rights activist, Samar Badawi, has not been allowed to visit him and he has been denied access to books.

He is the only human rights defender in Buraiman prison and his ill-treatment and detention are in violation of the UN Convention of Civil and Political Rights as well as the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners in particle section 8 (c) which states that 'Persons imprisoned for debt and other civil prisoners shall be kept separate from persons imprisoned by reason of a criminal offence'. 

He was jailed on trumped up charges following an unfair trial which did not follow due process. His sentence of 15 years in prison and a travel ban of equal duration, and a fine of 200,000 SR. (approximately $53,300), was upheld by the Specialised Criminal court on 6 July 2014. The charges relate to his political opinion and beliefs, and his human rights activities.

Charges brought against him included 'antagonizing international organisations against the kingdom', 'incitement of public opinion against authorities', and ‘setting up and supervising an unlicensed association’ referring to the MHRSA. For further information see previous GCHR appeals: http://gc4hr.org/news/view/688, and: http://gc4hr.org/news/view/673.

The GCHR expresses serious concern at the ill-treatment of Waleed Abu Al-Khair, the poor conditions, denial of medical treatment and refusal to allow his wife to visit him in detention. The GCHR expresses further concern that he is being held with and treated as a criminal in breach of international human rights law.

The GCHR urges the authorities in Saudi Arabia to: 

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Waleed Abu Al-Khair;
  2.  Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Waleed Abu Al-Khair, ;
  3. Guarantee the physical and psychological safety and integrity of Waleed Abu Al-Khair while he remains in detention and ensure he is kept separate from convicted criminals;
  4. Ensure that he receives the medical attention and special diet he requires and ensure that his wife is allowed to visit him;
  5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders 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.

The 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, 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 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.”