30/3/2012 Front Line Defenders: Saudi Arabia: Travel ban against human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair confirmed

( Source )

Saudi Arabia: Travel ban against human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair confirmed

Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair

On 28 March 2012, the Saudi Ministry of the Interior confirmed that a travel ban has been imposed against human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair is a human rights lawyer who has previously been involved in cases against the government for jailing an activist without any charge and for banning women voting in municipal elections. As a result of his human rights work, Waleed Abu Al-Khair is facing a number of charges before the Saudi Special Criminal Court including, among other things, calling for a constitutional monarchy, talking to the media with the intention of harming the reputation of country, insulting the judiciary and its staff, and communicating with foreign quarters.

On 28 March 2012, the Ministry of the Interior confirmed that a ban prohibiting Waleed Abu Al-Khair from travelling outside the country was in place. A spokesperson from the Ministry stated that the measure was put in place for an indefinite period, and that it was based on a court order from the Investigation and Public Prosecution Authority in relation to Waleed Abu Al-Khair’s involvement in an ongoing court case and other cases that are under investigation. On 21 March, he had been summoned to the Ministry of Interior’s Investigation and Public Prosecution Authority in Jeddah and told that he was banned from travelling due to “security concerns”. However no official document was presented to him outlining the ban or revealing the reasons behind this measure. The human rights defender is planning on appealing the ban.

Waleed Abu Al Al-Khair was informed of the ban just days before he was due to travel to New York for a six-week democracy course entitled “The Leaders for Democracy Fellows Program” run by the Syracuse University, New York, which began on 26 March.

It is reported that the travel ban is in breach of Saudi law, which states that such a ban can only be issued by judicial ruling or the Minister of the Interior for specified reasons that are related to security and a time limit must be imposed on the ban.

Front Line Defenders believes that the travel ban imposed on Waleed Abu Al-Khair constitutes a breach of his right to freedom of movement and is a direct attempt by the Saudi authorities to hinder him from carrying out his legitimate human rights work.

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