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Case History: Waleed Abu Al-Khair

Status: 
Imprisoned
About the situation

On 12 January 2015, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh increased the sentence against human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair to 15 years' imprisonment. On 6 July 2014, the human rights defender had been sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, with five years suspended, and a travel ban of equal duration, as well as a fine of 200,000 Saudi Riyal, for charges related to his peaceful human rights activities. That verdict was appealed by the Public Prosecutor who requested that Waleed Abu Al-Khair serve the entire 15 year sentence.

The human rights defender was sentenced on charges of “striving to overthrow the state and the authority of the King”; “criticising and insulting the judiciary”; “assembling international organisations against the Kingdom”; “creating and supervising an unlicensed organisation, and contributing to the establishment of another”; and, “preparing and storing information that will affect public security”.

About Waleed Abu Al-Khair

Waleed Abu Al-KhairWaleed Abu Al-Khair is a lawyer and head of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, an organisation which monitors and documents human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. The application to register the organisation as a human rights NGO was rejected.

13 Janeiro 2015
Waleed Abu Al-Khair's sentence increased to 15 years in prison

On 12 January 2015, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh increased the sentence against human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair to 15 years' imprisonment. On 6 July 2014, the human rights defender had been sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, with five years suspended, and a travel ban of equal duration, as well as a fine of 200,000 Saudi Riyal, for charges related to his peaceful human rights activities. That verdict was appealed by the Public Prosecutor who requested that Waleed Abu Al-Khair serve the entire 15 year sentence.

The human rights defender was sentenced on charges of “striving to overthrow the state and the authority of the King”; “criticising and insulting the judiciary”; “assembling international organisations against the Kingdom”; “creating and supervising an unlicensed organisation, and contributing to the establishment of another”; and, “preparing and storing information that will affect public security”.

The Specialised Criminal Court has jurisdiction over terrorism-related cases. In an act of protest against the trial, Waleed Abu Al-Khair consistently refused to recognise both the court's legitimacy and the impartiality of the judge. In his appeal, the Public Prosecutor had said that Abu Al-Khair should serve the entire 15 year sentence, as he had not apologised to the court. Following the decision of 12 January 2015, the human rights defender and his legal representatives refused to sign the court report of the trial and declined to receive the judgment or to appeal it.

12 Agosto 2014
Waleed Abu Al-Khair ill-treated while being transferred from Jeddah to Malaz prison

On 11 August 2014, human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair was moved from Jeddah prison to Malaz prison in Riyadh. While being transferred, it is reported that the human rights defender was beaten and pulled on the ground and he has since been suffering back pain. Waleed Abu Al-Khair's lawyer was not informed of the reasons for his transferral from Jeddah prison to Malaz prison.

On 6 July 2014, Waleed Abu Al-Khair was sentenced on charges of “striving to overthrow the state and the authority of the King”; “criticising and insulting the judiciary”; “assembling international organisations against the Kingdom”; “creating and supervising an unlicensed organisation, and contributing to the establishment of another”; and, “preparing and storing information that will affect public security”. The first instance Specialised Criminal Court in Jeddah ordered a 15-year prison sentence to begin on 15 April 2014, the day on which the human rights defender was initially detained. The judge ordered the suspension of five of the 15 years' imprisonment on the basis that he refrain from his human rights activity upon release. Further, Waleed Abu Al-Khair was sentenced to a 15-year travel ban, dating from the completion of his prison term, as well as a fine amounting to 200,000 Saudi riyal.

7 Julho 2014
Waleed Abu Al-Khair receives lengthy prison sentence and travel ban

On 6 July 2014, the first instance Specialised Criminal Court in Jeddah sentenced human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair to 15 years' imprisonment and a further 15-year travel ban, as well as a fine amounting to 200,000 Saudi riyal.

The court also ordered the closure of all of his social media accounts.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair was sentenced on charges of “striving to overthrow the state and the authority of the King”; “criticising and insulting the judiciary”; “assembling international organisations against the Kingdom”; “creating and supervising an unlicensed organisation, and contributing to the establishment of another”; and, “preparing and storing information that will affect public security”.. The court ordered a 15-year prison sentence to begin on 15 April 2014, the day on which the human rights defender was initially detained. The judge ordered the suspension of five of the 15 years' imprisonment on the basis that he refrain from his human rights activity upon release. Further, Waleed Abu Al-Khair was sentenced to a 15-year travel ban, dating from the completion of his prison term.

Waleed Abu Al-Khair and his legal representatives refused to sign the court report and declined to receive the judgment or to appeal it. The human rights defender has persistently refused to recognise both the legitimacy of the court and the impartiality of the judge in an act of protest. Waleed Abu Al-Khair has been targeted continuously by the Saudi Arabian authorities since March 2012.

17 Abril 2014
Arbitrary detention of human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair in Riyadh

On 15 April 2014, prominent Saudi Arabian human rights defender Mr Waleed Abu Al-Khair was arbitrarily detained, while at the premises of the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh.

The human rights defender was attending the fifth session of an ongoing trial against him at that court. Neither Waleed Abu Al-Khair's family nor his lawyer have been informed of the reasons for the arrest.

At 8am on 15 April 2014, Waleed Abu Al-Khair arrived at the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, and was reportedly arrested and taken to an unknown location. His wife did not learn the human rights defender's whereabouts until 16 April 2014, when authorities at Al Ha'ir prison in Riyadh confirmed to her that he was indeed imprisoned there. The arbitrary detention appears to be unrelated to the convictions and charges against Waleed Abu Al-Khair, described below.

On 29 October 2013, the human rights defender was sentenced to 3 months in prison by a Jeddah court on charges including “organising illegal gatherings” and “insulting the judiciary”. Waleed Abu Al-Khair had been waiting to be informed of when the sentence would be carried out.

In addition, in Riyadh, the human rights defender faces charges including: “striving to overthrow the state and the authority of the King”; “criticizing and insulting the judiciary”; “assembling international organizations against the Kingdom”; “creating and supervising an unlicensed organization, and contributing to the establishment of another”; and, “preparing and storing information that will affect public security”. Several of these charges were already addressed in the first trial against Waleed Abu Al-Khair. The claims related to establishing an unlicensed organization is in reference to the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the arbitrary detention of Waleed Abu Al-Khair, particularly as the detention appears to be solely related to his legitimate and peaceful human rights work.