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Case History: Raif Badawi

Status: 
In Prison
About the situation

On 21 September 2019, human rights defender Raif Badawi ended his hunger strike after receiving a visit from the Saudi Human Rights Commission.

On 17 September 2019, human rights defender Raif Badawi began an open-ended hunger strike over the intensifying mistreatment and worsening detention conditions he is facing.  Most recently, prison officials confiscated his books and important medicine.

Raif Badawi was flogged in public 50 times on January 9th 2015, following his sentence in 2014. He has 950 lashes and nearly a decade in prison left to serve - simply for blogging about free speech.

About Raif Badawi

Raif BadawiRaif Badawi, born 13th january 1984, is a Saudi Arabian writer and activist and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals.

He was arrested in 2012 on a charge of insulting Islam through electronic channels and brought to court on several charges including apostasy. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in 2013, then resentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in prison plus a fine in 2014. The lashes were to be carried out over 20 weeks.

23 September 2019
Raif Badawi ends open-ended hunger strike

On 21 September 2019, human rights defender Raif Badawi ended his hunger strike after receiving a visit from the Saudi Human Rights Commission.

20 September 2019
Raif Badawi begins open-ended hunger strike

On 17 September 2019, human rights defender Raif Badawi began an open-ended hunger strike over the intensifying mistreatment and worsening detention conditions he is facing.  Most recently, prison officials confiscated his books and important medicine.

9 January 2015
Human rights defender Raif Badawi receives first 50 lashes

On 9 January 2015, human rights defender Mr Raif Badawi was lashed publicly in front of Al Juffali Mosque in Jeddah after Friday prayers. He received 50 lashes, and will be subjected to 50 more on separate occasions until he has received 1000 lashes.

Raif Badawi is a human rights blogger and co-founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website. He has documented various abuses by the national religious and morality police on his website. The human rights defender has been detained in Jeddah’s Buraiman prison since his arrest on 17 June 2012.

Raif Badawi was originally sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and 600 lashes on 29 July 2013, when he was convicted of “insulting Islam” under anti-cyber crime legislation. On 7 May 2014, when the decision was reviewed, the sentence was increased to ten years' imprisonment, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyals (approx. US$ 266,616), a ban from using the internet, and a ten-year travel ban. The new sentence was upheld on 1 September 2014 by the Jeddah Court of Appeal.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the lashing of Raif Badawi, which violates the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading punishment under international law. Front Line Defenders calls on the Saudi authorities to immediately halt the lashing of Raif Badawi, quash his conviction and order his release, as the sentence is solely related to his peaceful and legitimate work for the promotion and protection of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

2 September 2014
Ten-year prison sentence and 1,000 lashes upheld against human rights defender Mr Raif Badawi

On 1 September 2014, the Jeddah Court of Appeal upheld the sentence of human rights defender Mr Raif Badawi. On 7 May 2014, Raif Badawi was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyals (approx. US$ 266,616), a ban from using the internet, and a ten-year travel ban.

Raif Badawi had originally been sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and 600 lashes on 29 July 2013, when he was convicted of “insulting Islam” under anti-cyber crime legislation.

Raif Badawi is a human rights blogger and co-founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website. He has documented various abuses by the national religious and morality police on his website. The human rights defender has been detained in Jeddah’s Buraiman prison since his arrest on 17 June 2012.

Reportedly, the lashing will be carried out in public after Friday prayers in front of al-Jafali Mosque in Jeddah. Raif Badawi will receive no more than 50 lashes per session, with a break of no less than a week between sessions.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the harsh sentencing of Raif Badawi, and calls on the Saudi authorities to quash his conviction, as it is solely related to his peaceful and legitimate work for the promotion and protection of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

8 May 2014
Sentencing of human rights defender Mr Raif Badawi

On 7 May 2014, human rights defender Mr Raif Badawi was sentenced by a Jeddah Criminal Court to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals. The human rights defender is a co-founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website and was convicted of “insulting Islam”.

The sentence is particularly alarming as it is the result of a review ordered by the Court of Appeals on 12 December 2013. The Court of Appeals accepted an appeal of the sentence of a Jeddah Court against Raif Badawi on 29 July 2013, and sent the case back to the Criminal Court for re-sentencing. The human rights defender was originally sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and 600 lashes.

It is believed that the sentence is motivated by Raif Badawi's publications in defence of human rights on his website, Free Saudi Liberals. Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the decision of the Criminal Court court to dramatically increase the harsh punishment against Raif Badawi, and calls on the Saudi authorities to quash the conviction against the human rights defender.

31 July 2013
Harsh sentence imposed on human rights blogger Mr Raif Badawi following unfair trial

On 29 July 2013, a Jeddah court sentenced human rights defender Mr Raif Badawi to 600 lashes and 7 years imprisonment under Saudi Arabia's anti-cyber crime law.

Raif Badawi is a human rights blogger and activist, who has documented various abuses by the national religious and morality police on his website. The human rights defender has been detained in Jeddah’s Buraiman prison since his arrest on 17 June 2012.

On 29 July, in a clear violation of international minimum standards for a free trial, Raif Badawi's lawyer was prevented from attending the hearing, calling into doubt the fairness of the judicial proceedings in the case. The court stated that the human rights defender was guilty of insulting Islam through his website, Free Saudi Liberals, and through his statements on TV. Criminal Court Judge Faris al-Harbi dropped a charge of apostasy, which carries the death penalty, after Raif Badawi assured the court on 24 July that he is a Muslim.

On numerous occasions before his arrest in June 2012, Raif Badawi had been harassed by the authorities. On 6 December 2009, Raif Badawi was stopped at Jeddah airport and prevented from travelling to Beirut. No official explanation was given for the travel ban or its time limit; however, it seemed to be linked to charges brought against Raif Badawi in relation to a website he set up, in which he criticized the religious police for human rights violations.

Earlier, in May 2009, the daily newspaper Al-Hayyat reported that the bank accounts of Raif Badawi and his wife had been frozen. A month later, he was summoned by a high officer at the Public Intelligence Office (Mukhabarat) who promised to drop the case against him. However, to date his legal status has not changed, and the bank accounts are still frozen.

On 5 May 2008, the prosecution service in Jeddah charged Raif Badawi with “setting up an electronic site that insults Islam,” and referred the case to court, asking for a five-year prison sentence and a 3 million riyal (approximately €600,000) fine.

Front Line Defenders condemns the harsh punishment handed down to Raif Badawi, in direct retaliation for his work in defence of human rights, particularly his criticism of the religious police for human rights violations. Front Line Defenders notes with alarm that the ruling constitutes an escalation in the pattern of harassment of the human rights defender by the authorities.