Saudi Arabia: UPDATE: Saudi Arabia: Imprisoned human rights lawyer Walid Abu Al-Khair ends hunger strike


On 12 June 2016, prominent human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair ended his hunger strike in prison after five days. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) welcomes the news but reiterates the call to free him from prison in Jeddah, where he is serving a 15-year sentence for his peaceful human rights activities.

Reports confirm that he ended his hunger strike after authorities at Thahban reformatory prison partially met some of his demands. They allowed him to have access to a hospital and promised that they will give him access to the prison library on a daily basis, allowing him to take books into his cell.

On 07 June 2016, Abu Al-Khair began an open-ended hunger strike demanding that the Thahban reformatory prison management stop targeting him. The prison administration had not allowed him to take medical tests, prevented him from ordering appropriate foods that suit his health condition, and prevented him from special visits or reading books or daily newspapers.

GCHR condemns the targeting of Waleed Abu Al-Khair by the Thahban reformatory prison administration and demands it uphold its obligations stipulated by the Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners of 1955 in Geneva adopted by the United Nations.

For more information about his case, please click the following link:

GCHR urges the authorities in Saudi Arabia to: 

  1. Immediately end all forms of harassment and ill-treatment suffered by Waleed Abu Al-Khair while in prison;
  2. Immediately and unconditionally release Waleed Abu Al-Khair;
  3. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Waleed Abu Al-Khair;
  4. Guarantee the physical and psychological safety and integrity of Waleed Abu Al-Khair while he remains in detention and immediately transfer him to a prison close to his family; and
  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.

GCHR respectfully remind 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.”