On October 12, 2019, which marks the10th anniversary of the founding of the Saudi Association for Civiland Political Rights (ACPRA), the undersigned organisations call on Saudiauthorities to immediately and unconditionally release all detained ACPRAmembers.
Created in 2009 by 11 human rightsdefenders and academics, ACPRA was established to promote and protectfundamental rights and freedoms in Saudi Arabia. While ACPRA was never legallyrecognised by the government, it was formally banned as an organisation in2013. As of May 2016, all of its 11 members had been prosecuted and subjectedto severe treatment by Saudi authorities for their human rights activism andcooperation with the United Nations human rights mechanisms. Yet, Saudi Arabia has been a member of theUN Human Rights Council for a total of 12 years.
As part of its mission, ACPRAadvocated peacefully for a constitutional monarchy, a universally electedparliament, an independent judiciary, and for the protection of fair trialrights in Saudi Arabia. ACPRA has documented cases of human rights violationsand communicated them to the relevant UN Special Procedures. Additionally, anumber of ACPRA’s members had been mentioned in the UN Secretary General’syearly report on Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanismsin the field of human rights.
The 11 co-founding members of ACPRAare: Essa Al-Hamid (sentenced to 11 years in prison, followed byan 11-year travel ban); Dr Abdulrahman Al-Hamid (sentenced to 9 years inprison, followed by a 9-year travel ban); Dr Abdullah Al-Hamid(sentenced to 11 years in prison and an 11-year travel ban); Dr AbdulkarimAl-Khoder (sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by a 10-year travelban); Omar Al-Said (sentenced to 7 years in prison and a 10-year travelban); Mohammed Al-Bajadi (sentenced to 4 years in prison, 4 years ofsuspension and a 10-year travel ban, and currently detained since May 2018 aspart of a crackdown on women’s rights defenders); Sheikh Sulaiman Al-Rashudi(sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 15-year travel ban); Dr Mohammad Al-Qahtani(sentenced to 10 years in prison and a 10-year travel ban); Saleh Al-Ashwan(sentenced to 5 years in prison followed by a 5-year travel ban); Fowzan Al-Harbi(sentenced to 10 years in prison and a 10-year travel ban); and Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili(sentenced to 8 years in prison and an 8-year travel and social media ban).
The prosecuted ACPRA members were sentenced to lengthyprison sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years by the Specialised Criminal Court(SCC), which was set up in 2008 to try acts of terrorism but has instead beenused to prosecute human rights defenders and other peaceful activists. These ACPRAmembers all faced vaguely defined charges such as “insulting the judiciary,”“calling to break allegiance with the ruler,” “accusing the judiciary of beingunable to deliver justice,” “communicating with international organisations inorder to harm the image of the State,” and “forming or joining an illegalorganisation,” in reprisals for having peacefully advocated for constitutionalreform and the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms in Saudi Arabia.
The undersignedhuman rights organisations urge the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabiato:
1. Immediatelyand unconditionally release all human rights defenders without charges orreservations;
2. AllowACPRA and other NGOs to continue to carry out their work supporting families ofdetainees and promoting human rights in their country;
3. AllowACPRA to register, in order to enable its members to continue their peacefuland legitimate activities in the defense of human rights; and
4. Guarantee,under all circumstances, that all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia areable to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear ofreprisals and without restrictions.
Americans for Democracy & HumanRights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
FIDH, under the Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders
Front Line Defenders
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Human Rights Watch
International Service for HumanRights (ISHR)
MENA Rights Group
Right Livelihood Foundation(Abdullah Al Hamid and Mohammad Al Qahtani are among the 2018 Right LivelihoodAward Laureates)
World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT), under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders