5/3/2014 Front Line Defender: Saudi Arabia: Update – Appeal of human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair rejected

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Saudi Arabia: Update – Appeal of human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair rejected

Appeal of human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair rejectedAppeal of human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair rejected

On 24 February 2014, the Court of Appeal in Mecca upheld a three-month prison sentence against human rights defender and lawyer Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair, on charges of “organising illegal gatherings”.

The judge, in correspondence regarding the case, also accused the human rights defender of contempt for the judiciary. It is not yet known when the sentence will be executed.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair is a lawyer and head of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. He continued to operate the organisation despite the fact that his application to register as a human rights NGO was rejected. The human rights defender was awarded the 2012 Olof Palme Memorial Fund Prize.

Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair was arrested on 2 October 2013 and was released on bail two days later. The charge which the three-month sentence is based on relate to his signature on a public statement which was also signed by 64 other human rights defenders, activists and academics, and posted online on 5 December 2012. The statement condemned trials against Jeddah activists as well as the events in Qutayef in 2011, in which protests were violently repressed by state security forces. It further called on the authorities to renounce violence; to seek solutions for sectarian, territorial and tribal discrimination in all its forms; and to release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. Unlike the other signatories, Waleed Abu Al-Khair did not issue an apology.

Front Line Defenders is concerned that the sentence against Waleed Abu Al-Khair has been upheld and considers it as a direct result of the human rights defender’s exercise of his right to freedom of expression and legitimate criticisms of the Saudi Arabian authorities. For more information on this case, please see Waleed Abu Al-Khair’s page on the Front Line Defenders website.

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