Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Human rights defender Dr. Abdulkarim Al-Khodr sentenced to 10 years in prison


On 19 October 2015, the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), sentenced human rights defender Dr. Abdulkarim Al-Khodr, co-founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), to ten years in prison and a ten-year travel ban to take effect on completion of his sentence. 

Once again, the sentence was handed down following a grossly unfair trial that was based on trumped up charges that include disobedience of the ruler, instigation to cause chaos through the organization of protests and demonstrations, undermining the state’s image by publishing false information and distributing it to foreign organizations and the collaboration in the founding of a non-licensed association (ACRPA).

Dr. Al-Khodr is the tenth founding member of ACPRA to be jailed, which shows the extent to which the Saudi authorities are trying to curtail any civic space in the country. He was arrested on 24 April 2013 during his initial trial at the Criminal Court in Buraidah. He is currently in detention in Al-Malaz prison in Riyadh and has reportedly been continuously harassed in prison and subjected to verbal abuse by the other prisoners.

It’s worth mentioning that after two previous trials the charges against him were quashed and a verdict for his release was ordered but the Saudi judiciary instead referred his case to the SCC. The SCC deals with cases related to terrorism and not peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

Please see the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)'s previous appeals on this matter through the following link:

The GCHR deplores in the strongest terms the heavy sentencing of human rights defender Dr. Al-Khodr in a trial that lacked basic international standards and due process. 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, including the UN system and governments that have influence such as the US and UK, to intervene immediately to protect human rights defenders at risk in Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to:

1.  Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Dr. Abdulkarim Al-Khodr and drop all charges against him as he has been targeted solely due to his peaceful and legitimate human rights work;

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

3. 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.”