Jailed Saudi Human Rights Attorney, Waleed Abu Al-Khair Receives Human Rights Award

1138-209502_samar_badawi_and_waleed_abu_al-khairOn June 12, 2015, a panel of European attorneys and representatives of European Bars recognized Mr. Waleed Abu Al-Khairwith Europe’s most prestigious human rights award, the 20th Lodovic-Trarieux Human Rights International Prize award, which was first given to Nelson Mandela in 1985. Waleed Abu Al-Khair has been unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia as a result of his human rights advocacy activities in Saudi Arabia since February 2014.

Human rights attorney Waleed Abu Al-Khair angered the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia by founding the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA). He represented fellow reform activists who themselves were charged with crimes against the Kingdom related to their calls for reform of the brutal monarchy. Mr. Abu Al-Khair was arrested while representing the political dissident Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for establishing a website that was critical of the regime and allowed for open discourse regarding religion.1 Mr. Abu Al-Khair is married to and has a daughter with Saudi women’s rights’ advocate Samar Badawi (Raif Badawi’s sister), who was herself jailed and now is subject to a travel ban for advocating for the rights of women under the repressive Saudi regime. In 2014, with the appeal of Mr. Badawi’s case underway, Mr. Abu Al-Khair was detained under the anti-terrorism law and convicted of crimes against the state including “inflaming public opinion,” “disparaging and insulting judicial authority,” “making international organizations hostile to the Kingdom,” and violating Saudi Arabia’s anti-cybercrime law. In fact, all these human rights advocacy activities occurred before the Saudi anti-terrorism law, under which he was inexplicably prosecuted, was even enacted. Mr. Abu Al-Khair was summarily sentenced to 15 years in prison in January 2015. He was also fined, subject to a long-term travel ban, and ordered to shut down all of his online accounts.

Since neither Mr. Abu Al-Khair nor his wife can attend the 20th Lodovic-Trarieux Human Rights International Prize award ceremony in Geneva, Mr. Arshack will receive the award on Mr. Abu Al-Khair’s behalf.

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