Saudi Arabia: GCHR calls for human rights defender Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid, who is in a coma, to be freed


According to local reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), prominent human rights defender Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid, 71 years old, was transferred from prison in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a hospital on 09 April 2020. He remains in a coma. 

According to ALOST for Human Rights, Dr. Al-Hamid was “already in deteriorating health, and transferred to hospital more than three months ago. The doctor told him at the time that he urgently needed a heart catheterisation operation, but the authorities sent him back to prison and told him he would have the operation during late May-early June.”

Dr. Al-Hamid is a founding member of the NGO Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2013 and has been held at Al-Ha'ir prison in Riyadh.

On 09 March 2013, the Riyadh Specialised Criminal Court convicted Dr. Al-Hamid and another co-founder of ACPRA, Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani, on charges related to their work with ACPRA. Dr. Al Qahtani was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment, while Dr. Al-Hamid received a five-year prison sentence, in addition to having a previous sentence of six years upheld. The human rights defenders also received a travel ban equal to the period of imprisonment, to start following the completion of their sentences. The Court also dissolved ACPRA, confiscating its assets and halting its activities, on the accusation that its founders failed to obtain an official license.

GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to provide the necessary medical care to Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid and to release him unconditionally from the hospital to his home as soon as his health improves.

Authorities across Saudi Arabia should help stop the spread of COVID-19 by immediately freeing all detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience, especially those who are elderly or whose health is ailing.