Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia- The Saudi government continues to target Human Rights Lawyer Waleed Abu Alkhair
Beirut, 4 February, 2012 – Human rights defender and lawyer, Waleed Abu Alkhair is facing criminal charges and has been subjected to a media smear campaign as a result of his human rights activities and the legitimate exercise of his profession. Waleed Abu Alkhair is a human rights activist and lawyer and founder of the website “Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia”, which monitors and reports on human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. In August 2011, he left his PhD studies in the United Kingdom to return to Saudi Arabia.
The human rights lawyer was called by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution to appear before the District Court in Jeddah on several criminal charges. The charges reportedly relate to calls Waleed Abu Alkhair made for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, as well as his appearances on foreign media channels where he spoke out about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and for communications he had with human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch.
On 11 September 2011, Waleed Abu Alkhair attended a District Court hearing in Jeddah where the charges against him were read out. However, the Public Prosecutor failed to show up and Waleed Abu Alkhair was obliged to signed a pledge confirming his attendance at the next hearing. To date, he has not received any further information relating to the charges or the date of the next hearing nor has he received an official summons.
Since his appearance in court, local newspapers and social media have targeted the human rights defender and have attempted to tarnish his reputation and stigmatize him due to his human rights activities. His licence to practice as a lawyer has been suspended and therefore his ability to earn a livelihood has been severely restricted. However, despite this he continues his human rights work.
"The ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders effectively makes it almost impossible to work for human rights in the kingdom." said Nabeel Rajab, director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights." and added "I call on the Saudi government to halt the ongoing crackdown against human rights defenders and immediately drop all charges against human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Alkhair."
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights believes that the charges against Waleed Abu Alkhair and the ongoing media smear campaign against him as well as the suspension of his licence to practice as a lawyer are a direct result of his work in defending of human rights and constitute a violation of the legitimate right to exercise his profession.
The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
- Reverse the suspension of Waleed Abu Alkhair to work as a lawyer;
- Take measures to ensure that the media refrains from making statement stigmatizing the legitimate work of Waleed Abu Alkhair;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are free to carry out their peaceful and legitimate human rights work free of all restrictions or reprisals,
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, recognizes 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 11: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession (...),” 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.”
For more information, please contact:
Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab (Arabic and English) +973-396-333-99
Lebanon: Khalid Ibrahim (Arabic and English) +961-701-595-52
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.