Agissez pour Natheer Al-Majed
On 18 January, the Riyadh Penal Court in Saudi Arabia sentenced Mr. Natheer Al-Majed to seven years in prison and a subsequent seven-year travel ban for charges that include inter alia writing articles against the Saudi regime and participating in protests. The human rights defender was arrested earlier that day and is currently being held in Al-Ha’er prison in Riyadh. In the week of 23 January, the family of the Natheer Al-Majed sent a request to the Saudi authorities to approve the appointment of a defence lawyer to aid in the appeal of his case.
Natheer Al-Majed is a Saudi writer who has raised issues related to human rights for several years in Saudi Arabia. He writes for a number of sites including Rased news network, Al-Hiwar Al-Nutamaden, Aram, Duroub and many other cultural and intellectual websites.
According to colleagues of Natheer Al-Majed, he was arrested on 18 January primarily due to an article he wrote in 2011 entitled “I protest, therefore I am human” that supported protests in the Al-Qatif area and called for political reform and an end to discrimination against Saudis living in Al-Qatif. The human rights defender had initially been held in pre-trial detention, pending investigation between 13 April 2011 and 27 June 2012 after publishing the aforementioned article. During this detention, Saudi authorities beat him, degraded him and held him in solitary confinement. He was subsequently released pending trial.
Natheer Al-Majed continued to publish writings in support of human rights in Saudi Arabia. On 18 January 2017, the Saudi government summoned him to appear before court regarding the article he had written in 2011 and his support for protests in Al-Qatif – six years following his pre-trial detention. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and a subsequent seven-year travel ban.
I strongly condemn the detention and sentence of human rights defender Natheer Al-Majed, as I believe it to be related to his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities in Saudi Arabia. I am also concerned that Natheer Al-Majed will be ill-treated in prison given his history with Saudi authorities.
I urge Saudi authorities to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release and quash the sentence against human rights defender Natheer Al-Majed and cease any further judicial harassment against him;
2. Ensure that the treatment of Natheer Al-Majed, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;
3. Ensure that Natheer Al-Majed has access to legal counsel immediately in case their detention continues;
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.