Saudi Arabia : Supreme Court sentences Mr. Raif Badawi

09/06/2015
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The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources that the Supreme Court upheld the sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years of imprisonment for Mr. Raif Badawi, blogger and creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals.

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New Information
SAU 001 / 0514 / OBS 048.3

Sentencing / Arbitrary detention /
Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment
Saudi Arabia
June 8, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Saudi Arabia.

New information :

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources that the Supreme Court upheld the sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years of imprisonment for Mr. Raif Badawi, blogger and creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals.

According to the information received, on June 7, 2015 the Supreme Court in Riyadh upheld the sentence against Mr. Raif Badawi, following a referral made by Saudi Arabian Royal Office in January.

On September 1, 2014, the Jeddah Court of Appeal sentenced Mr. Badawi to 10 years of prison and 1,000 lashes. In January 9, 2015, Mr. Raif Badawi received the first 50 lashes. However, after that first session, subsequent floggings were suspended (see background information).

The Observatory fears that following the decision of the Supreme Court, the flogging sentence might resume this week.

The Observatory calls on the Saudi authorities to immediately release Mr. Raif Badawi, as his conviction is aimed at preventing him from carrying out his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities in Saudi Arabia.

The Observatory reiterates its condemnation in the strongest terms of the use of corporal punishment as a criminal sanction and recalls that Saudi Arabia has adhered to the Convention Against Torture in 1997, which prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Background information :

In 2006, Mr. Raif Badawi created the website Free Saudi Liberals. This liberal blog promoted freedom of expression and fostered public debate about religion in Saudi Arabia. Since then he has been the subject of continuous judicial harassment.

On June 17, 2012, Mr. Raif Badawi was arrested and placed in the Jeddah prison on charges of “apostasy” – an offence punishable by death penalty in Saudi Arabia – and “setting up an illegal website”.

In July 2013, the website was closed by the authorities.

On July 29, 2013, Mr. Raif Badawi was sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashes by the District Court in Jeddah. The verdict cleared him from the capital sentence encompassed by the charge of apostasy. With the help of his lawyer, he appealed against his conviction.

On December 12, 2013, the Court of Appeals quashed the first instance verdict and sent the case back to retrial.

On May 7, 2014, the Jeddah Criminal Court handed down a harsher sentence by increasing the prison term to 10 years and the number of lashes to 1,000 together with a 10-year travel ban to start on expiration of his jail sentence and a fine of one million Saudi Riyals (200,000 €) for “insulting Islam and religious authorities”.

On September 1, 2014, the Jeddah Court of Appeal upheld the sentence issued against him. The Ministry of Interior gave orders for Raif Badawi to receive the 1,000 lashes over 20 weeks in public outside Al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah during 20 sessions of 50 lashes each.

On January 9, 2015, Mr. Raif Badawi received 50 lashes outside Al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah. Subsequent rounds of punishment were suspended on medical grounds.

In January 2015, the Saudi Arabian Royal Office referred the sentence to the Supreme Court in Riyadh.

Actions requested :

Please write to the authorities in Saudi Arabia asking them to :

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Raif Badawi, as well as all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, specifically by suspending the pending sessions of lashes ;

ii. Quash the conviction and sentencing of Mr. Raif Badawi, which only serves to prevent him from carrying out his peaceful human rights work, and release him immediately and unconditionally, as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Saudi Arabia ;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Raif Badawi and all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrance and fear of reprisal ;

iv. Put an end to the use of corporal punishment as a criminal sanction in order to comply with its international human rights obligations.

v. Comply in all circumstances with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its :

- Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;
- Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms” ;
- Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration” ;

vi. Comply with the provisions of the Arab Charter, in particular its article 32 which protects “the right to information, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression, freedom to seek, receive and impart information by all means, regardless of frontiers”.

vii. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratify international and regional human rights instruments and harmonise its domestic law with international human rights instruments.

Addresses :

· His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, Office of His Majesty the King, Royal Court, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax : (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 11 403 3125
· H.E. Shaykh Dr Mohammed bin Abdulkareem Al-Issa, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, University Street, Riyadh 11137, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax : + 966 11 401 1741 / + 966 11 402 0311
· His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Minister of Interior, Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933, Airport Road, Riyadh 11134, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax : +966 11 403 3125
· H.E. Mr. Faisal Bin Hassan Trad, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Route de Lausanne 263, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax : +41 22 758 00 00. Email : saudi.mission.ch@mofa.gov.sa
· H.E. Mr. Abdulrahman bin Soliman Al-Ahmed, Ambassador, Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Brussels, Avenue Franklin Rosevelt, 45 1050 Brussels – Belgium. Fax : +32 2 6468538. Email : beemb@mofa.gov.sa

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Saudi Arabia in your respective countries.

***

Geneva-Paris, June 8, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

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