RWCHR and HRF File Urgent Appeal with UN on Behalf of Saudi Prisoner of Conscience Raif Badawi Seeking Ramadan Pardon
Today, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR) and the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) filed an urgent appeal yesterday to the UN on behalf of Saudi Arabian prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi.
“Raif Badawi continues to languish in prison for saying what the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been saying regarding a more moderate Islam and open Saudi Arabia. Releasing Raif Badawi would not only be the just thing to do, but it would be in Saudi Arabia’s own interest to do so,” said Badawi’s international legal counsel and Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, the Honourable Irwin Cotler.
The urgent appeal was communicated to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the rights to peaceful assembly and association; the situation of human rights defenders; and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The urgent action procedures allow for the UN to take steps to ensure that the government stops and remedies ongoing human rights violations. These procedures can be used in time-sensitive situations or other exceptional circumstances.
The RWCHR and HRF filed the urgent action on behalf of Raif Badawi to apprise Saudi authorities of his dire situation and poor health condition, providing useful information for a review of his case on the occasion of Ramadan, traditionally an occasion for royal pardons in Saudi Arabia.
Badawi was tried under the vague “Anti-Cyber Crime Law” for transmitting material online that affects “public order, religious values [and] public morals,” a charge that can be used to criminalize almost any form of expression. Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes and a 1 million riyal fine ($291,700 CAD), followed by a 10-year ban on travel and journalistic activity simply for founding and participating in an online forum to discuss social issues in Saudi Arabia. Badawi has been unjustly detained for nearly seven years.
Badawi’s wife and children obtained Canadian citizenship in 2018 and now live in Sherbrooke, Quebec.