Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia / Sweden- Human Rights Defender Waleed Sami Abu Al-Khair Awarded the 2012 Olof Palme Prize


On 25 January 2013, Samar Badawi received the Olof Palme Prize 2012 on behalf of her husband Waleed Sami Abu Al-Khair, head of the Saudi Arabian Human Rights Monitor (SAHRM). The prize was also awarded to human rights lawyer Radhia Nasraoui from Tunis. The prize was established in February 1987 and is awarded by the Olof Palme Memorial Fund for International Understanding and Common Security.

According to the Olof Palme Memorial Fund, who made the decision, Waleed Sami Abu Al-Khair, head of Saudi Arabian Human Rights Monitor, received the 2012 Olof Palme Prize for "his strong, self-sacrificing and sustained struggle to promote respect for human and civil rights for both men and women in Saudi Arabia. Together with like-minded citizens and colleagues, Waleed Sami Abu Al-Khair does so with the noble goal of contributing to a just and modern society in his country and region." 

On 22 January 2013 Waleed Abu Al-Khair went to the Immigration office in Jeddah to ask if he will be allowed to travel to receive the Olof Palme Prize. They refused to address his inquiry and asked him to go to Jeddah airport to which he went accompanied by his wife Samar Badawi. The authorities at the airport didn't allow him to travel and his wife attended the award ceremony on his behalf. She gave a speech written by the defender himself in which he asked her to say: "My husband is not allowed to travel but he feels due to your tribute that he is part of a big human appeal, an appeal for freedom, justice, dignity, and forgiveness."

While the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) congratulates Waleed Abu Al-Khair on receiving the Olof Palme Prize 2012, GCHR is concerned that he has been targeted as a result of his peaceful and legitimate activities in defence of human rights, in particular his work to promote democracy and freedom in Saudi Arabia.

The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:

  - Immediately and unconditionally remove the travel ban on Waleed Abu Al-Khair and refrain from targeting and harassing him;

- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in KSA are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.