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Saudi Arabia
Urgent Interventions

Condemnation of Mr. Raif Badawi to 10 years’ imprisonment and 1,000 lashes

SAU 001 /0514 / OBS 048

Arbitrarydetention / Sentencing /

Corporal punishment

Saudi Arabia

May 27, 2014

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Saudi Arabia.

Briefdescription of the situation:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources of the recent condemnation ofMr. Raif Badawi, blogger and creator of the website Free SaudiLiberals, to 10 years’ imprisonment and 1,000 lashes for promoting freedomof speech in Saudi Arabia.

Accordingto the information received, on May 7, 2014, the Jeddah Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Raif Badawi to10 years of imprisonment, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million riyals(200,000 €) for “insulting Islam and religious authorities”. This verdict isthe outcome of continuous judicial harassment targeting the human rightdefender since he created at the beginning of 2006 the website Free SaudiLiberals. This liberal blog promoted freedom of expression and fosteredpublic debate about religion in Saudi Arabia, but was closed by the authoritiesin July 2013.

Mr. Raif Badawi is kept in detention in the Jeddah prisonsince his arrest on June 17, 2012. He was tried for apostasy - punishable bydeath penalty in Saudi Arabia - and setting up an illegal website. Pursuant tothose charges, he was initially sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashesby the District Court in Jeddah on July 29, 2013. However, the verdict clearedhim from the capital sentence encompassed by the charge of apostasy.

With the help of his lawyer, he appealed against hisconviction. On December 12, 2013, the Court of Appeals quashed the firstinstance verdict and sent the case back to retrial. Eventually, the JeddahCriminal Court handed down a harsher sentence by increasing the prison term to10 years and the number of lashes to 1,000. Mr. Raif Badawi appealed thedecision.

As Saudi Arabia adopted a new anti-terrorist law in 2014hostile to human rights defenders[1], the conviction of Mr. Raif Badawi appears as one ofmany attempts to silence human rights activists in the country. The Observatoryexpresses its deep concern regarding his conviction, which seems to be aimed atpreventing Mr. Raif Badawi from carrying out his legitimate and peaceful humanrights activities in Saudi Arabia.

In particular, the Observatory is alarmed by the sentencingof Mr. Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and the use of corporal punishment as acriminal sanction. The Observatory recalls Saudi Arabia has adhered to theConvention Against Torture in 1997, which prohibits torture and other cruel,inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


Pleasewrite to the authorities in Saudi Arabia asking them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Raif Badawi, as well as all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia;

  1. 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;

  1. 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;

  1. 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, whichprovides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association withothers, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of humanrights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

- Article 6(a), whichforesees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association withothers, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of humanrights and fundamental freedoms”;

- Article 12.2, whichprovides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure theprotection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and inassociation with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, defacto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any otherarbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of therights referred to in the present Declaration”;

  1. 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”.

  1. 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.


·His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King ofSaudi Arabia and Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, Office of His Majesty theKing, Royal Court, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax: (via Ministry of theInterior) +966 11 403 3125

·H.E. Shaykh Dr Mohammed bin Abdulkareem Al-Issa, Ministerof Justice, Ministry of Justice, University Street, Riyadh 11137, Kingdom ofSaudi Arabia. Fax: + 966 11 401 1741 / + 966 11 402 0311

·His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul AzizAl Saud, Minister of Interior, Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933, AirportRoad, Riyadh 11134, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax: +966 11 403 3125

· H.E. Mr. Faisal BinHassan Trad, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia tothe United Nations Office in Geneva, Route de Lausanne 263, 1292 Chambésy,Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 758 00 00. Email:

· H.E. Mr. Abdullah bin Yahya AL-Mualemy, Ambassador, Embassy of SaudiArabia in Brussels, Avenue Franklin Rosevelt, 45 1050 Brussels – Belgium. Fax:+32 2 6468538. Email:

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Saudi Arabia in your respectivecountries.


Paris-Geneva,May 27, 2014

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rightsdefenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

[1] In April 2014, Saudi Arabia passed a new terrorism lawlabeling anyone who “calls for atheist thought in any form, or calling intoquestion the fundamentals of the Islamic religion” as a terrorist.

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