February 18, 2017
Saudi Arabia: Imprisoned Activist Earns Human Rights Award
Waleed Abu al-Khair Serving 15 Years for Peaceful Activism
(Beirut, February 20, 2017) – The Law Society of Upper Canada’s selection of the imprisoned Saudi human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair for its 2016 Human Rights Award highlights Saudi Arabia’s brutal repression of peaceful activists and dissidents, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Abu al-Khair, who was sentenced in 2014 to 15 years in prison for his peaceful human rights advocacy, so that he can attend the award ceremony in Toronto on February 22, 2017.
Saudi courts have convicted at least 20 prominent peaceful activists and dissidents since 2011. Many, like Abu al-Khair, have faced sentences as long as 10 or 15 years on broad, catch-all charges – such as “breaking allegiance with the ruler” or “participating in protests” – that do not constitute recognizable crimes.
“Every day Waleed Abu al-Khair spends in prison compounds the injustice Saudi Arabia has imposed on him and his family,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Continued recognition of Abu al-Khair’s human rights work demonstrates that Saudi Arabia’s repression of peaceful activists and dissidents generates wide notice and criticism.”
Abu al-Khair has been one of Saudi Arabia’s leading human rights advocates for years.
Tagged: Saudi Arabia