Ten years after arbitrary arrest, NGOs call for Saudi rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair to be released

Monday, 15 April 2024 marks the tenth anniversary of the arrest of Saudi human rights defender Waleed Abu al-Khair, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence as a result of his peaceful human rights activism. He has repeatedly been ill-treated in prison, including being denied vital medical care. The undersigned organizations call on the Saudi authorities to allow him immediate access to the medical care he requires, and to immediately and unconditionally release him, as well as all other prisoners unjustly detained for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights.

Waleed Abu al-Khair is a prominent human rights defender and founder of the NGO Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA). He has spent much of his life advocating for democratic reforms in the country and, before his arrest, provided legal representation for many victims of human rights abuses.

Abu al-Khair was arrested on 15 April 2014 after refusing to sign a pledge to give up his human rights activism, and became one of the first activists to be tried and sentenced under Saudi Arabia’s draconian Counter-Terrorism Law. He was tried in the Specialized Criminal Court, an exceptional jurisdiction that was set up in 2008 to try cases of terrorism but has since been used to prosecute numerous peaceful human rights defenders. It is notorious for disregarding legal safeguards.

On 6 July 2014, Abu al-Khair was sentenced to 15 years in prison, to be followed by a 15-year travel ban and a fine of 200,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$53,000) as punishment for his lawful and peaceful human rights advocacy. The charges against him included “inciting public opinion against the State and its people”; “inciting international organizations against Saudi Arabia with the intention of ruining its reputation”; and “setting up and supervising an unlicensed association”, namely the MHRSA, which he registered in Ontario, Canada, after it was denied a licence in the kingdom.

Source: https://defendlawyers.wordpress.com/2024/04/15/ten-years-after-arbitrary-arrest-ngos-call-for-saudi-rights-lawyer-waleed-abu-al-khair-to-be-released/