Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Human rights defender, Mohammed Albajady, sentenced to four years in prison followed by a five-year travel ban following a secret trial

18.04.12

 Beirut, 18 April, 2012 -- The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information concerning the sentencing of human rights defender Mohammed Albajady in Saudi Arabia, to four years in prison imprisonment followed by a five-year travel ban. The sentence was handed down following a secret trial in flagrant breach of fair procedures and in total disregard for his right to a fair trial.

Mohammed Albajady co-founded the Saudi Civil & Political Rights Association (HSM), in October 2009. He was previously the host of a weekly on-line forum called “The citizen and his rights”. The GCHR issued an appeal on his case on 10 April 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/116).

On 10 April 2012 the Special Criminal Court in Riyadh, established to try terrorism and security-related offences, reportedly held a secret session during which the four-year prison sentence was handed down. According to information received, soldiers in military uniforms and representative of the governmental National Human Rights Commission attended the trial. However, neither Mohammed Albajady ‘s family nor his legal representatives were told of the court session.

The charges of which he was allegedly found guilty include, being in possession of banned books, contesting the independence of the judiciary, harming the image of the state through the media and calling on the families of political detainees to protest.

Mohammed Albajady, who is currently in detention in Al- Ha'ir prison, has been on hunger strike since 21 February 2012 in protest against his ill treatment and arbitrary detention. On 10 April 2012 an Interior Ministry spokesperson allegedly told the media that Mohammed Albajady was in good health and not on hunger strike. His lawyers requested that they be allowed to visit him to verify the statement however they were prevented from doing so.

Mohammed Albajady lawyers have been denied access to him while he has been in detention and despite standing outside the court at previous hearings they were not permitted to enter. They have been told that the Court does not recognize their right to represent the human rights defender.

Mohammed Albajady was originally arrested on 21 March 2011, by security forces at his home in Buraidah, Al-Qassim a day after he attended a protest in the capital Riyadh organized by families of detainees arbitrarily held.  Over the course of his on-going detention he was held in solitary confinement for four months.

Nabeel Rajab, director of Gulf Centre for Human rights, said "The Saudi authorities should immediately release Mohammed Albajady." “Again, I call on the Saudi King to immediately to do everything in his power to protect and support the legitimate work of human rights defenders and also to meet all legal obligations under international law."  Rajab said.

The GCHR expresses grave concern at the reported sentencing of Mohammed Albajady and his on-going arbitrary detention. The GCHR believes that his arrest, detention and sentencing is solely related to his legitimate human rights works and the exercise of his right to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:

-Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Mohammed Albajady;

- Drop all charges against Mohammed Albajady;

- Grant him immediate and unfettered access to his family and lawyers;

- Ensure that all necessary measures are taken to guarantee his physical and psychological security while he remains in detention;

-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 Gulf Centre for Human Rights calls your attention to the rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in 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” in particular to Article 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b)To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;”  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:

• To express your concern about sentencing human rights defender Mohammed Albajady to four years in prison imprisonment followed by a five-year travel ban and to call for his immediate release;

• 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

Office of His Majesty the King

Royal Court, Riyadh

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax:+966 1 403 3125  

 

Crown Prince and Minister of the Interior

His Royal Highness Prince Naif bin

Abdul Aziz Al Saud

Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933,

Airport Road

Riyadh 11134

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fax: +966 1 403 3125 

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.