Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Writer Nadhir Al-Majid sentenced to seven years in prison
Reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirmed that a seven-year prison sentence was issued last week against Saudi writer Nadhir Al-Majid, who was transferred to prison immediately after the sentencing.
On 18 January 2017, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh held its hearing in the presence of Al-Majid, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment followed by seven years of a travel ban in addition to a fine. Reports have confirmed that the writer was alone during the hearing and not accompanied by his family or his lawyer.
He was taken immediately after the verdict to Al-Ha'ir prison in Riyadh. There are fears that the authorities will refuse to officially deliver a copy of the verdict to him or his family, which might prevent them from seeking an appeal of the sentence at the Court of Appeal.
The Public Prosecutor directed many charges against Al-Majid including failing to obey the ruler, participating in demonstrations, writing articles supporting protests (dating back to the year 2007), in addition to having contact with correspondents of foreign news agencies - namely Reuters, AFP, and CNN.
He was previously jailed on 13 April 2011 after he was arrested and his electronic equipment was confiscated. He was beaten, kicked and ordered to stand for hours and then placed in solitary confinement for five months. He was then placed in a cell with convicted drug dealers and weapons traders. The reason for his arrest is related to his writings, including an article entitled “I protest, I am a human being” which supports the right to demonstrate. He was released on 27 June 2012.
Nadhir Al-Majid is a well-known 40-year-old writer and teacher who has published many articles in various Arabic newspapers and electronic websites.
GCHR believes that the arrest and seven-year prison sentence of Nadhir Al-Majid is solely related to his work in defence of human rights and in particular his defence of freedom of assembly in Saudi Arabia.
GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
- Release Nadhir Al-Majid immediately and without any conditions and drop all charges against him;
- Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nadhir Al-Majid;
- Release all detained human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia; and
- Ensure in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and Internet activists 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 GCHR respectfully reminds 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, 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 5 (a): “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: (a) To meet or assemble peacefully”, 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): “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.”