November 24, 2017
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) and the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) write to request again that Saudi Arabia, in accordance with its international law obligations:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Walled Abu al-Khair; and,
- Vacate the conviction and sentence wrongly imposed on 6 July 2014.
LRWC, L4L and UIA are particularly concerned that Waleed Abu al-Khair be released immediately from prison to enable him access to the competent medical care and treatment needed to restore his health and wellbeing and prevent further deterioration.
On 6 July 2014 the Specialized Criminal Court sentenced prominent human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair to 15 years in prison, a SAR 200,000 fine, a travel ban of 15 years following release and a five year suspension of the prison sentence. On 15 February 2015 the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal reversed the 5-year suspension. The charges, trial process and sentence were not in accordance with international norms of due process and Mr. Abu al-Khair’s detention is arbitrary, based solely on his human rights and legal advocacy. Furthermore, treatment of Mr. Abu al-Khair constitutes and a gross violation of Saudi Arabia’s international human rights obligations.
International call for release
The gravity of the continuing human rights abuses against Mr. Abu al-Khair has been noted by state and civil society bodies around the world including former United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. On July 10, 2014 Ms. Pillay denounced the continuing trend of harassment and Saudi Arabia’s use of overbroad and vague counter-terrorism legislation to imprison innocent human rights defenders. She stated: “Proceedings against human rights defenders in the Specialised Penal Court, as well as in other courts in Saudi Arabia, have fallen short of international fair trial standards.” Ms. Pillay expressed deep concern over Mr. Abu al-Khair’s imprisonment and urged Saudi authorities to release him and others arbitrarily detained for peaceful advocacy of human rights.