Home Page > News Item > Saudi Arabia must not flog Raif Badawi for blogging

raif2Update #9 to RAN 02/13

20 October 2016 – PEN International is deeply concerned by news reports, as yet unconfirmed, that the Saudi government may resume the lashing punishment against blogger Raif Badawi, currently serving a 10-year sentence in Saudi Arabia. The news was announced in a statement by The Raif Badawi Foundation, which said it had received the confirmation from the same source that had notified his family about the first 50 of 1,000 lashes, which Badawi was given on 9 January, 2015. After his first flogging, Badawi’s remaining 950 lashes were postponed indefinitely on medical grounds.

PEN International calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to abandon any intention to carry out the remainder of his 1,000-lash sentence, as it violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

PEN International continues to call for Badawi’s conviction to be overturned and for him to be released immediately and unconditionally. PEN also reiterates its call for the release of Badawi’s lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in connection with his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

For extracts of Raif Badawi’s writings in English and Arabic click here

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  • Saudi Arabia must not flog Raif Badawi for blogging

  • This petition is to demand that His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia to abandon any intention to carry out the remainder of his 1,000-lash sentence given to Raif Badawi and to release him immediately. Please complete and send the petition below to add your voice to ours. You may edit the petition if desired, before sending.

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Please send appeals:

  • Calling on the Saudi Arabian authorities to halt immediately any plans to carry out Raif Badawi’s sentence of flogging as it violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • Urging the Saudi Arabian authorities to release Raif Badawi and his lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair immediately and unconditionally as they are being held solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression;
  • Calling on Saudi Arabia to ratify, without reservation, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Appeals to be sent to:

His Majesty
King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior)+966 1 403 3125
Salutation: Your Majesty
Crown Prince and Minister of the Interior
His Royal Highness Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al SaudMinistry of the Interior
P.O.Box 2933, Airport Road,
Riyadh 11134
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 403 3125
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Justice
His Excellency Shaykh Dr Mohammed bin Abdulkareem Al-Issa
Ministry of Justice,
University Street
Riyadh 11137 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: + 966 1 401 1741 + 966 11 402 0311
Salutation: Your Excellency 

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Saudi Arabia in your country if possible.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 19 November 2016. Please send us copies of any appeals you send and of any responses you receive***

Background

Raif Badawi was arrested on 17 June 2012 in Jeddah after organising a conference to mark a ‘day of liberalism’. The conference, which was to have taken place in Jeddah on 7 May 2012, was banned by the authorities. On 29 July 2013, a court in Jeddah sentenced Badawi to seven years and three months in prison and 600 lashes after he was convicted under the information technology law of “founding a liberal website,” “adopting liberal thought” and for “insulting Islam”. The online forum, Liberal Saudi Network – created to foster political and social debate in Saudi Arabia – was ordered closed by the judge.

According to reports, the appeal, submitted by Badawi’s lawyer, Walid Abu al-Khair, cited procedural and evidential reasons why the conviction should be overturned and Badawi should be freed. In December 2013, it was reported that the Court of Appeal had reversed the ruling of the District Court in Jeddah, ordering that Badawi’s case be sent for review by another court. Badawi, who suffers from diabetes, is reported to be in poor health.

On 7 May 2014, Jeddah’s Criminal Court sentenced Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (approx. US$266,631) on charges of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website.’ According to PEN’s information, when Badawi appeared in court to collect a written account of the verdict on 28 May 2014 he discovered the insertion of two additional penalties: a 10-year travel ban and 10-year ban from participating in visual, electronic and written media, both to be applied following his release. For more information about his case, please read PEN’s interview with his wife Ensaf Haidar here.

According to the Centre For Inquiry (CFI), in an article dated 17 September 2014, the Saudi appeals court in Mecca confirmed the sentence against Badawi, and ordered that the lashes should be administered 50 at the time, in public, every week after Friday Prayers. The first 50 lashes were given outside al-Jafali mosque in the port city of Jeddah on 9 January 2015. The following week, the authorities postponed further flogging sessions on medical grounds after a doctor said wounds from the previous lashing had not healed. On 16 January 2015, his wife Ensaf Haider, who lives in Canada with the couple’s three young children, said that King Abdullah had referred the case to the Supreme Court.

On 18 October 2016, The Raif Badawi Foundation released a statement in which they confirmed that they had received information that Raif Badawi’s flogging sentence was to continue. In contrast to the first round of punishment, which was performed in a public place, the next lashing was reportedly due to be carried out inside prison.

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