Saudi Arabia: The Gulf Centre for Human Rights mourns the death of prominent human rights defender Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid
With great sadness and sorrow, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) received the news of the death of prominent Saudi human rights defender Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid, at the age of almost 70, on 24 April 2020
On 09 April 2020, he was transferred from his prison in Riyadh to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a hospital after being left for hours in a coma after suffering a stroke in his cell. The specialist told him three months ago when he was taken to hospital, after his health deteriorated, that he needed an urgent catheterisation for his heart, but the authorities told him that he would perform the operation in the upcoming Ramadan month (end of May and early June). Local reports confirmed that the competent authorities deliberately kept him without proper treatment in the intensive care unit, which led to his death.
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. He has authored several books and was arrested six times, and also had been banned from traveling. Dr. Al-Hamid has always called for building a state of institutions and true citizenship and for justice and the suspension of mock trials.
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.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) believes that the authorities intentionally withheld medical treatment from Dr. Al-Hamid, which caused his death. GCHR believes that his poor treatment in prison was a result of his pioneering legal and peaceful work in the field of human rights.
GCHR calls on the Saudi government to:
- Initiate an immediate, thorough, and impartial investigation into the poor medical treatment that led to the death of Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid with a view to disseminating the results and bringing those who are responsible for his death to justice in accordance with international standards;
- Release of all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience,
- Adhere to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) in all Saudi prisons; and
- Ensure in all circumstances the ability of human rights defenders and journalists in Saudi Arabia to carry out their legitimate work in the field of human rights without fear of reprisals and without significant restrictions, including judicial harassment.