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Saudi Arabia: Abdulaziz Al-Shubaily Pays Heavy Price for Human Rights

“Together for Justice” called on the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to pressure Saudi authorities to respond to the approved opinion No. 71/2019 concerning the Saudi lawyer Abdulaziz Al-Shubaily who is being arbitrarily detained in Saudi jails.

Al-Shubaily is a founding member of the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), a human rights organization that documented human rights abuses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia while promoting a vision for constitutional reform. As a co-founder of ACPRA, Al-Shubaily contributed to the organization’s efforts to promote human rights by providing support and representation to victims of the kingdom’s human rights violations. He also served as the legal representative of nine of the 11 ACPRA members who have been prosecuted since December 2012.

As a result of his human rights work with ACPRA, Saudi authorities summoned him for interrogation in November 2013. They questioned him about statements he had signed defending the right to peaceful protest, and phone conversations in which he discussed demonstrations that took place in the city of Buraydah.

After he refused to discontinue his activism, he was formally charged in July 2014 with crimes including, “spreading a statement which calls for continuous demonstrations,” “describing judges as unjust and lacking integrity,” and “accusing security forces and senior officials of suppression, torture, assassination, enforced disappearance and violating human rights.”

 In May 2016, Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) sentenced him to eight years in prison, followed by an eight-year travel ban. This sentence has now been confirmed by the Court of Appeal and awaits enforcement.

On 31 July 2017, the Saudi human rights defender was informed that the Court of Appeal in Riyadh had upheld his eight-year prison sentence.

On 17 September, Al-Shubaily was arrested and transferred to Onaizah General Prison. His arrest came a few months after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took office.

On 18–22 November 2019, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued Opinion No. 71/2019 concerning Abdulaziz Al-Shubaily and called for his immediate release.

WGAD reported that “the Saudi authorities often withhold the implementation of court verdicts against activists and human rights defenders in order to use the threat of imprisonment against them and thus prevent them from carrying out their work for the longest time possible.”

In its turn, “Together for Justice” calls on UN parties to act urgently and pressure the Saudi authorities for the release of Al-Shubaily and all prisoners of conscience held in Saudi custody.

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