Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Travel ban imposed on lawyer and human rights defender Waleed Abu Alkhair
Beirut, 22 March, 2012 -- On 21 March 2012 lawyer and human rights defender, Waleed Abu Alkhair, received an early morning telephone call from the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution in Jeddah, requesting him to appear before the Bureau urgently. He went to the Bureau that morning and was interviewed by the Bureau Chief, who showed him a telegram - classified as secret and urgent - signed by the President of the Saudi Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, Mohammed Al-Abdullah. The telegram stated that lawyer Abu Alkhair is not permitted to travel due to "security reasons" and that he should be informed of the content of the telegram immediately. When the defender Abu Alkhair questioned the real reason for the travel ban and its duration, no answer was given and his signature was signed on the report form. The travel ban on lawyer and human rights defender Waleed Abu Alkhair comes only two days before he was due to leave for America on 23 March 2012 to participate in a special leaders program.
On 11 September 2011, Waleed Abu Alkhair attended a District Court hearing in Jeddah where the charges against him were read out. However, the Public Prosecutor failed to show up and Waleed Abu Alkhair was obliged to signed a pledge confirming his attendance at the next hearing. To date, he has not received any further information relating to the charges or the date of the next hearing nor has he received an official summons.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights believes that Waleed Abu Alkhair has been targeted as a result of his peaceful and legitimate activities in defence of human rights, in particular his work to promote democracy and freedom in Saudi Arabia. The Gulf centre for Human Rights is concerned that this latest travel ban on Waleed Abu Alkhair forms part of an ongoing trend of harassment against human rights defenders by the government in Saudi Arabia.
The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
-Immediately and unconditionally remove the travel ban on human rights defender Waleed Abu Alkhair and refrain from targeting and harassing him;
-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 Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.