29/10/2013 Front Line Defender: Saudi Arabia: UPDATE – Human Rights Defender Waleed Abu Al-Khair Sentenced to 3 months

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Saudi Arabia: UPDATE – Human Rights Defender Waleed Abu Al-Khair Sentenced to 3 months

Waleed Abu Al-KhairWaleed Abu Al-Khair

On 29 October, a Jeddah court sentenced human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khairi to three months’ imprisonment for signing a public statement critical of the regime.

Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair was arrested on 2 October 2013 and was released on bail two days later. The human rights defender announced that he will appeal the verdict.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair is a lawyer and head of Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. He was awarded the 2012 Olof Palme Memorial Fund Prize for what the Fund described as his “strong, self-sacrificing and sustained struggle to promote respect for human and civil rights for both men and women in Saudi Arabia”.

The three-month sentence was in relation to Waleed Abu Al-Khair’s signature on a public statement “condemning the trials against Jeddah Reformists, and the events in Qutayef.” The statement was signed by academics and activists and posted online on 5 December 2012. The inquiry into other signatories was closed after they issued an apology, which Waleed Abu Al-Khair refused to do.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair has also appeared in separate trial proceedings before the Saudi Special Criminal Court on charges of, 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”. His most recent trial on these charges began on 4 June 2012 but the charges were eventually dropped.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the decision to sentence Waleed Abu Al-Khair on the basis of the legitimate and peaceful exercise of his freedom of expression, and calls on the Saudi authorities to quash the sentence against him.

Front Line Defenders also calls for the lifting of the travel ban that was issued against him on28 March 2012.

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