Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Human rights defender Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili sentenced to eight years in prison


Human rights defender Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili has been sentenced to eight years in prison, following a hearing on 10 January 2017 by the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Saudi Arabia. The court was asked to examine the notes sent by the Court of Appeal in relation to the case, for which Al-Shubaili had already been sentenced. He will reportedly appeal the new verdict.

After deliberation, the SCC decided to issue a new verdict against Al-Shubaili which is essentially the same as the previous one issued on 29 May 2016. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by another eight years banned from writing on social media, in addition to a travel ban of eight years to begin after the sentence has been served. The court ignored all the notes presented by the human rights defender, who had decided earlier not to recognise the court because he believed that "human rights and people that have views should not be tried and convicted of terrorist offenses as the Saudi government is doing now using the Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing."

In a hearing which took place on 29 May 2016, the SCC in Riyadh previously sentenced Al-Shubaili to eight years in prison followed by another eight years of a travel ban to start after he serves his sentence. In addition, the court banned him from writing any more.

Al-Shibaili was accused of many charges including allegedly publishing a statement calling for demonstrations; accusing judges of dishonesty and human rights violations; and preparing, storing and sending data affecting public order. As well he was sentenced for participating in an unauthorised association, the Civil and Political Rights Association in Saudi Arabia (ACPRA), and his contribution to the drafting of its statements, as well as failing to comply with the judicial decision to dissolve ACPRA.

Al-Shubaili is a principal member of the ACPRA who participated in the defence team on behalf of many of his fellow members of ACPRA. Also he has used social media networks to call for reform and defend people’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

Again the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the new verdict against Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili. GCHR believes that the ruling, which was issued after a mock trial that did not follow international standards and due process, is part of an ongoing trend adopted by the authorities, which includes the prosecution, arrest, torture, and judicial harassment of human rights defenders in the Kingdom.

GHCR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally revoke the new sentence against Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili and drop all charges against him; and
  2. Immediately release all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia whose detention is a result of their peaceful and legitimate work in the promotion and protection of human rights.

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, recognises 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 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (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): “The State shall take all necissary 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.