29/10/2013 Gulf Center For Human Rights: Saudi Arabia- Human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair sentenced to three months in prison

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The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the sentence of three months in prison issued against human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair.

On 29 October 2013, the Criminal Court in Jeddah sentenced the human rights lawyer to three months in prison for signing a statement about the trial of Jeddah reformists and the events of Qatif, which was publicised on 5 December 2011. He signed the statement on behalf of the NGO Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA), which he heads.  The statement, signed by 64 human rights defenders, activists and academics, called on authorities to renounce violence and to seek solutions for sectarian, territorial and tribal discrimination in all its forms; and to release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair is a human rights lawyer who was awarded 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.”

On 2 October 2013, Saudi authorities detained Abu Al-Khair for setting up an allegedly “unauthorised” gathering (diwaniah) in his house where he held meetings with reformists. On 3 October 2013, he was released on bail.

Abu Al-Khair said that “he will appeal the three months sentence” and added that “he will continue his human rights work.”

He faces another trial in which, among other charges, he is accused of “establishing a human rights organisation without a license” and “cooperating with international human rights organisations.” The next hearing of his trial will be held on 4 November 2013 before the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh.

The GCHR believes that the sentencing of Waleed Abu Al-Khair is solely related to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. The GCHR is very concerned that Abu Al-Khair is targeted by authorities as a direct result of his co-operation with the international mechanisms, in particular the UN system.

The GCHR urges the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:

1. Revoke the three months’ sentence issued against Waleed Abu Al-Khair and drop all related charges;

2. Stop using the judiciary to target human rights defenders and stop all the other trials against Waleed Abu Al-Khair;

3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Waleed Abu Alkhair and other human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

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

GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, G

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