2013 Archives

May 13th, 2014


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL  7 May 2014  A thousand lashes and 10 years in prison for online Saudi Arabian activist  Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia’s authorities to quash the outrageous sentencing today of Raif Badawi in connection with an online forum for public debate he set up and accusations that he insulted Islam.    Raif Badawi, co-founder of the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (about US$266,631) by Jeddah’s Criminal Court. 

“The decision to sentence Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes is outrageous. He is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression. The authorities must overturn his conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.  More…


Saudi Arabian human rights activist Abdulrahman al-Hamid has been detained incommunicado since his arrest on 17 April. He may be a prisoner of conscience. Dr Abdulrahman al-Hamid received a phone call from the Criminal Investigation Department in Burayda in thecentral province of al-Qassim, on 17 April, asking him to report to them. He went there, together with his son, after‘Asr Prayer (around 4pm) and was immediately arrested. Apparently he was told that a warrant for his arrest hadbeen issued by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP), and that he was to be kept in detention.His family have not heard from him since, and the authorities have refused their requests to allow him visits by hisfamily and legal representative.  More…


Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair was detained on 15 April following a court hearing of his ongoing trial. He is a prisoner of conscience, at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair was arrested on 15 April after appearing at the fifth court hearing of histrial before the Specialized Criminal Court in the capital, Riyadh. His defence team went to the court on 22 April tomake enquiries as to why he had been detained, and found him there, attending a sixth hearing. The judgeapparently refused to provide an explanation for Waleed Abu al-Khair’s arrest. The next session of his trial hasbeen schedule for 28 May.After his arrest, Waleed Abu al-Khair was taken to al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh, where he is understood to have been placed in solitary confinement and deprived of sleep due to constant exposure to bright lights. He is at risk of further torture and other ill-treatment. On 17 April he was allowed one brief phone call to his wife, who has not, however, been allowed to visit him, although she is expecting their first child in June.  More…


Saudi Arabian human rights activist Fadhel al-Manasif has been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by a 15-year travel ban. He is a prisoner of conscience. Fadhel Maki al-Manasif was sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on 17 April to 15 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by a travel ban of 15 years, and a fine of 100,000 Saudi riyals (about US$26,600). The court convicted him of charges including “breaking allegiance to the ruler”, “stirring sedition and sectarian division between citizens by inciting protests and marches”, “communicating with foreign media to harm the Kingdom’s government, its people and national unity” and “founding a banned association”. He is appealing the decision. The charges are related to his participation in peaceful protests in the country’s Eastern Province which called for political reform and an end to discrimination against Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a Muslim community, his reporting and documentation of such discrimination and him being a founding member of a banned human rights association. Fadhel al-Manasif has been detained since 2 October 2011 and was brought to trial before the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on 28 February 2012.  He remains at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.  More…


AMNESTY  16 April 2014 Saudi Arabia jails lawyer and human rights activist in ongoing crackdown on dissent
Saudi Arabia must immediately release prominent human rights activist and lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was arrested following his fifth hearing at the Specialized Criminal Court on Tuesday and taken to al-Ha’ir prison without an explanation, said Amnesty International. “Authorities in Saudi Arabia are clearly punishing Waleed Abu al-Khair for his work protecting and defending human rights. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. “Waleed Abu al-Khair’s detention is a worrying example of how Saudi Arabian authorities are abusing the justice system to silence peaceful dissent. Nobody should be jailed for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression.”   More…

Apr 16, 2014 Concerned for stability, Saudi Arabia tightens curbs on dissent 
DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia, rattled by regional turmoil that has destabilised the Middle East, is intensifying a crackdown on domestic dissent, raising fears that a more open space for public debate that emerged in recent years is under threat.  Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, head of the local Human Rights First Society, said security steps were not the answer to dissidents. “We need more than harshness and roughness as we have noticed recently in the sentencing,” he told Reuters.   Instead, he said, the government should regard criticism as constructive and that he hoped the authorities would push reforms at a faster pace. “We need more understanding for where people are coming from,” Mugaiteeb said.    More…

(Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Angus McDowall and Mark Heinrich)
Amnesty March 26, 2014 DOMESTIC WORKER FACING EXECUTION An Indonesian domestic worker is at imminent risk of execution in Saudi Arabia. Shecould be executed as early as 3 April if the victim’s family does not receive the requested diya (“blood money”) compensation by this date.  More…

Amnesty 7 March 2014 SENTENCE OVERTURNED, BUT STILL IN PRISON    Saudi Arabian human rights defender Dr Abdulkareem Yousef al-Khoder, jailed for eight years in June 2013, has had his conviction and prison sentence overturned by the Court of Appeal, but is still behind bars.  More …

AMNESTY  6 March 2014  Free Saudi Arabian human rights activists on hunger strike
Saudi Arabia must immediately and unconditionally release two founders of a local human rights organization who have spent nearly a year behind bars, after being convicted on the basis of their peaceful activism and criticism of the authorities, said Amnesty International.   Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid were sentenced to 10 and 11 years in jail respectively on 9 March 2013. Both are co-founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), one of the few organizations in the country recording human rights violations and assisting families of detainees held without charge.  More…

URGENT ACTION HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST REMAINS IN JAIL AMNESTY: UA: 15/14 Index: MDE 23/002/2014 Saudi Arabia Date: 23 January 2014  A prominent Saudi Arabian human rights activist, Fowzan al-Harbi, who is on trial for his human rights activism has been arbitrarily detained since 26 December 2013. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience.  Fowzan al-Harbi a 36-year-old father of two, was arrested on 26 December 2013 at the end of his second hearing before the Criminal Court in the capital, Riyadh. The judge ordered his arrest without providing any reason, despite repeated requests from al-Harbi’s lawyer. Fowzan al-Harbi is a founding member of the human rights NGO Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), most of whose founders were imprisoned in 2013 on similar charges.  More

AMNESTY 20 January 2014   UA: 3/13 Index: MDE 23/001/2014 Saudi Arabia NEW TRIAL, THOUGH SENTENCE OVERTURNED  Website founder Raif Badawi, jailed in 2013, has had his conviction and sentence overturned on appeal, but could now be tried again. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience.  More…

AMNESTY  12/19/2013  Saudi Arabia: Release detained ACPRA activists The Saudi Arabian authorities must release all members of the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA) who are detained for criticizing the government’s human rights record or calling for political reform, Amnesty International said today in the wake of last week’s prison sentence against its youngest member. Omar al-Hamid al-Sa’id, aged 22, was sentenced on 12 December by a criminal court in Burayda, in the central province of al-Qassim, to four years in prison and 300 lashes. He was also handed a four-year travel ban to be enforced after he has served his sentence. Omar al-Sa’id was convicted of charges including disobeying the ruler, membership of an unlicensed organization, inciting disorder by calling for demonstrations and harming the image of the state by disseminating false information. Amnesty International considers Omar al-Hamid al-Sa’id to be a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for his peaceful activities as a member of ACPRA and calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately and conditionally release him and to ensure that he is not subjected to flogging or any other corporal punishment.  More…

AMNESTY  12/19/2013  COURT ORDERS HALT TO EXECUTION The Supreme Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has ordered a halt to the execution of a Saudi Arabian man sentenced to death after an unfair trial.  Mabruk bin Ali al-Sai’ari was due to be executed on 19 December. The Supreme Court ordered a halt to his execution on 16 December and referred the case for re-examination by the General Court in Najran, near the Yemeni border in the south-west of the country.   More…

King Khalid Foundation

King Khalid Foundation

The Winner of Chaillot Prize for Human Rights in 2013: King Khalid Foundation:  The Delegation of the European Union to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is pleased to announce that the Chaillot Prize for the Promotion of Human Rights in the GCC Region in 2013 has been awarded to King Khalid Foundation for the organisation’s remarkable work in combating domestic abuse in Saudi Arabia and, in particular, for the campaign “Some Things Can’t Be Covered”. King Khalid Foundation also submitted a draft law on “Protection from Abuse,” which was adopted by Saudi Arabia’s Government in August 2013.  More…


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Support Detainee Dr. Al-Hamid to Nobel Peace Prize 

Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Al-Hamid is an outstanding figure in Saudi Arabia who has devoted his whole life to peaceful political and social reform.    Hamid Website

Why this is important:

Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid is a Saudi activist who devoted his life to the peaceful political and social reforms in Saudi Arabia. Al-Hamid had become a leading figure for Saudi Activists and is still remembered for his defense about human rights in Saudi Arabia. His mission was not affected by the so many times he was imprisoned, he went on his noble tasks until he was finally judged with 11 years. His great struggle, peaceful thoughts and call for justice must be awarded and honored.


To support this campaign a petition in support and honor of Dr. Abdullah Al-Hamid has been created.  Click the following link to add your name to the growing list of supporters.  Link

AMNESTY   Saudi Arabia: Human rights activists face court as crackdown intensifies Nov. 28, 2013  Two prominent activists in Saudi Arabia have been questioned today on as yet unspecified charges as the continuing crackdown on independent human rights work in the country intensifies, said Amnesty International.  Issa al-Hamid and Abdulaziz al-Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA) were interrogated today by the General Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution.The hearing came a day after a special security court raised an additional charge against a prominent human rights activist in a trial that has been ongoing for 20 months.  “The crackdown on freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia is widening with at least a dozen human rights activists sentenced in 2013 alone,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.  More…

H.E. Ana Maria Gomes, EU Parliament and Ibrahim Almugateeb, President of Human Rights First Society - Saudi Arabia

H.E. Ana Maria Gomes, EU Parliament and Ibrahim Almugateeb, President of Human Rights First Society – Saudi Arabia

Reception in honour of Ms. Ana Maria Gomes  November 9, 2013  Human Rights First Society Reports        H.E. Ambassador Adam Kulach, head of the delegation of the European Union (EU), held a reception in honour of H.E. Ms. Ana Maria Gomes, a member of the EU Parliament, on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at the Ambassador’s residence.  Human Rights First Society (HRFS) President, Ibrahim Almugaiteeb had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Gomes.

 During the evening Ms. Gomes met with Her Royal Highness Princess Al-Bandary bint Khalid bin AbdulAziz AlSaud a member of the Board of Trustees of King Khalid Foundation (Investment Committee Member). Ms. Gomes also held side meetings with human rights activists, Majlis AlShura ( non-elected Parliament) members, media and other facets of Saudi society.

 In the European Parliament, Ms. Gomes’ main areas of activity are: human rights, security and defence, international relations, gender issues and development.   As her role with the EU directly relates to the goals of HRFS, we look forward to a good working relationship moving forward.

Waleed Abu al-Khair

AMNESTY NEWS   October 29, 2013  Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer sentenced to prison for demanding reforms  Today’s decision by a Jeddah criminal court to imprison a prominent human rights lawyer for having signed a pro-reform statement two years ago is yet another sign of the arbitrary nature of Saudi Arabia’s justice system, Amnesty International said.  Human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair has been sentenced to three months in prison for offending the Saudi Arabian judiciary. The charges stem mainly from his signing a petition in 2011 that criticized the heavy-handedness of the Saudi Arabian authorities in dealing with 16 reform

ists. “This trial is a yet another example of how the authorities abuse the justice system to silence peaceful dissent in Saudi Arabia,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International.   More… English

HRW NEWS   Give Saudi Women the Right to Drive by Rothna Begum  OCTOBER 24, 2013  This weekend, Saudi women will once again defy their nation’s long-standing driving ban and get behind the wheel, facing harassment, intimidation and arrest. On Saturday, the “Women2Drive” campaign will renew Saudi women’s demand to exercise their right to drive.   More  Arabic   English

Saudi Arabia: Empty promises as crackdown intensifies  21 October 2013   Saudi Arabia has failed on every count to live up to its promises to address the dire human rights situation in the country, said Amnesty International.  An Amnesty International submission ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva on Monday to scrutinize the country’s human rights record details an ongoing crackdown including arbitrary arrests and detention, unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment over the past four years.  The Saudi Arabian authorities have failed to implement any of the main recommendations from the last review by the UN Human Rights Council – known as the Universal Periodic Review – which took place in 2009.   More  Arabic   English

HRW  Saudi Arabia: Abuses in International Spotlight:  Election to Human Rights Council Should Bring Concrete Improvements    OCTOBER 20, 2013  (Geneva) – Other countries should use the rare opportunity for scrutiny of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record on October 21, 2013, to press for concrete steps to end abuses. Country representatives gathering in Geneva for the United Nations Human Rights Council’s periodic review of Saudi Arabia should press for actions that include the immediate release of Saudi activists jailed over the past year solely for peacefully advocating reform.“Saudi Arabia’s record of repression and of breaking its promises to improve its human rights practices raise serious questions about its fitness for membership in the Human Rights Council,” Stork said. “Saudi Arabia needs to take concrete, visible steps before the council elections to show it’s willing to improve its abysmal rights record, including freeing the jailed activists.”  More Arabic   English

Wajeeha Alwaider

Wajeeha Alwaider

AMNESTY  UA: 279/13 Index: MDE 23/031/2013  Saudi Arabia Date: 4 October 2013   URGENT ACTION  WOMEN ACTIVISTS’ SENTENCES CONFIRMED An appeal court in Dammam has confirmed the sentences of two women’s rights activists convicted in an unfair trial for attempting to help an abused woman. Wajeha al- Huwaider and Fawzia al-Oyouni were sentenced to 10 months in prison followed by a two-year travel ban.

Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Oyouni were arrested on 6 June 2011 when attempting to come to the aid of the Canadian woman, after they received a text message from her telling them that her husband had left her and her children were locked in the house with no food whilst he travelled for five days. On their way to the house, the two activists were ambushed by security forces, accompanied by the husband, and arrested. Although the husband did not file a lawsuit against them, the prosecution accused them of attempting to kidnap the woman and her children and take them to the Canadian embassy.    

Their trial before the criminal court in al-Khobar was marred by a number of irregularities. After the two activists requested that the woman they were accused of kidnapping testify in court, the judge replaced the charge of kidnapping by takhbib . The judge denied their request to call her as a witness and proceeded to convict and sentence them even though the alleged victim herself had appeared on social media denying the allegations against the two activists. Takhbib is not a recognizable criminal offence under international standards. Both women were prevented from foreign travel before their sentences were finalized and are due to begin serving their sentences immediately. 

Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language: Calling on the authorities to quash the convictions and the sentences imposed on Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Oyouni as they have been convicted solely for their legitimate activities as women’s rights activists and ensure that they are not deprived of their liberty or subjected to arbitrary restrictions on their freedom of movement; Asking them to immediately end the judicial and extrajudicial harassment and persecution of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.  

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 15 NOVEMBER 2013 TO: King of Saudi Arabia King Abdullah 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 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)  Salutation: Your Majesty    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 11 401 1741 + 966 11 402 0311 Salutation: Your Excellency   And copies to: Minister of Interior His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933, Airport Road, Riyadh 11134 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Fax: +966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying) Salutation: Your Royal Highness


Saudi Arabia blocks citizens’ access to website supporting women’s right to drive  1 October 2013     (Arabic Network for Human Rights Information )  Saudiauthorities have blocked access within the country to the site Oct26driving.com, which supports Saudi women’s right to drive, in a move considered by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) to be a continuation of a repressive and tyranical policy by a regime which seems to be the only remaining relic of the Middle Ages.   More…

Mohammed Salih Al-Bjady

Mohammed Salih Al-Bjady

URGENT ACTION SAUDI PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE RE-ARRESTED  UA: 91/11 Index: MDE 23/030/2013  Date: 13 September 2013    Prisoner of conscience Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady was re-arrested eight days after his release. He is reported to again be on hunger strike. Amnesty International fears he is at risk of ill-treatment as experienced during previous hunger strikes.  Amnesty link coming soon.



Interim government must cooperate with UN; Arab League must send a fact-finding mission

August 29, 2013

The undersigned Arab human rights organizations including HRFS  (Human Rights First Society) are closely and concernedly following the grave threats to human rights in Egypt following the spread of violence which has claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people and left thousands injured since June 30. The undersigned organizations condemn the excessive use of lethal force against protests and sit-ins held by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its supporters, as well as the return of MB supporters to the use of violence. Politically motivated violence has extended beyond the Sinai Peninsula to reach the capital and several governorates in the north, south, and west of the country. State-owned institutions, churches, and police stations have been stormed, ransacked, and torched, and Copts and military and police officers have been targeted. Journalists have also been harassed, assaulted, and killed by both the security authorities and MB supporters.

The undersigned organizations express their utmost concern regarding the continual use of lethal force by security forces in confronting popular protests since the revolution of January 25, 2011, including under former president Hosni Mubarak, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), former president Mohamed Morsi, and the current interim government.                                                            Read More     … Arabic     …English

URGENT ACTION – AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 31 July 2013  RAIF BADAWI SENTENCED TO JAIL, FLOGGING  Website founder Raif Badawi has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for online posts critical of the Saudi Arabian authorities, which they considered offensive to Islam. Amnesty International considers Raif Badawi a prisoner of conscience.  More…

URGENT ACTION  AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL  Index: MDE 23/025/2013 Saudi Arabia    Prisoner of conscience Mohammed Saleh al-Bajady, who had been held incommunicado since 19 September 2012, was finally granted a family visit on 7 July. He had been on hunger strike for over nine months, during which time he was ill-treated. He remains at risk of ill-treatment and is in need of urgent medical attention.  More…

AMNESTY   SAUDI ARABIA: OUTSPOKEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER SENTENCED: MIKHLIF BIN DAHAM AL-SHAMMARI  UA: 169/13 Index: MDE 23/023/2013 Saudi Arabia Date: 3 July 2013  A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a prominent human rights defender to five years in prison and a 10-year travel ban. He is free pending his appeal, but he could be detained at any time, and would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment in custody.  More   . . . in English

HRW:  Saudi Arabia: 7 Convicted for Facebook Postings About Protests JUNE 30, 2013  (Beirut) – Saudi Arabia sentenced seven government critics to prison on June 24, 2013, for allegedly inciting protests and harming public order, largely by using Facebook. The Specialized Criminal Court sentenced the men, all from the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, to prison terms ranging from five to 10 years and barred them from travelling abroad for additional periods.  More… in Arabic   in English


A Saudi Arabian criminal court has sentenced human rights defender Dr Abdulkareem Yousef al-Khoder to eight years’ imprisonment and a 10-year travel ban. He is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.

Dr Abdulkareem Yousef al-Khoder, 48, was sentenced to eight years in prison and a 10-year travel ban by a criminal court in Buraydah – 350km north of the capital Riyadh – on Monday 24 June. He was convicted on charges including disobeying the ruler, inciting disorder by calling for demonstrations, harming the image of the state by disseminating false information to foreign groups, and taking part in founding an unlicensed organization.  More… Complete UA  in English

The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) issued a statement on 28 June 2013 regarding this case Read statement (in Arabic) 

Saudi Judge Bars Women from Trial of Human Rights Activist: Notes from Global Voices on trial of Dr Abdulkareem Yousef al-Khoder  More…

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL  17 June 2013 Saudi Arabian website founder still detained one year on  In an action targeting King Abdullah, Amnesty International today urged the Saudi Arabian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally a website founder still detained and on trial one year after his arrest for expressing views online.   More   Arabic   English

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 28 May 2013  Saudi Arabia: Appeal for human rights defenders facing up to 11 years in jail  Today’s court appeal by two members of a prominent Saudi Arabian human rights organization is a bid for justice amid a broader crackdown on activism in the Gulf kingdom, said Amnesty International.   See previous report  More in English

Joint appeal to the UN against ill-treatment and torture of detained human rights defenders, activists and photojournalist in Bahrain GULF CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS   2013-05-24   We the undersigned NGOs worldwide (Human Rights First Society – Saudi Arabia has signed)  are writing to express serious concern over the treatment of Bahrain human rights defenders whom we believe to be detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. We have received alarming reports of torture and ill-treatment in prison, which contravene Bahrain’s obligations under international law, as well as its promises to stop the practise of torture in detention. 

Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)
Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)

Most recently, Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Secretary General of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), was threatened in Jaw prison after he told his wife Sumaya on 14 May 2013 that he had witnessed young political prisoners being tortured by prison guards and called for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit. After two days with no news, Rajab called his wife and colleague to say, “I witnessed by my own eyes a big crime and the government doesn’t want me to talk about it,” and then the phone was cut off.  

Bahraini authorities promised to hold accountable those responsible for torture following recommendations made under the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain, yet very little has been done to properly investigate the serious allegations of torture of prisoners by government employees and nothing has been done to effectively prevent torture and other prohibited treatment from continuing.  More in Arabic and English

 “Saudi Arabia continues to breach a multitude of applicable international standards.”  Amnesty International’s  Philip Luther.    21 May 2013  Saudi Arabia must halt a “disturbing” rise in death penalty usage that has resulted in at least 47 state killings in the country already this year, Amnesty International urged after six more people were executed today. Five Yemeni men were beheaded and “crucified” this morning in the city of Jizan, while a Saudi Arabian man was executed in the south-western city of Abha. “Saudi Arabia’s increased use of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is deeply disturbing and the authorities must halt what is a horrifying trend,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director. “The Kingdom must immediately establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing capital punishment.”  More in English

Announcing the 2012 International Religious Freedom Report:  Secretary of State John Kerry released the 2012 International Religious Freedom Report at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 20, 2013, at the U.S. Department of State.  Read report in English

Australian man detained on terrorisim charges in Saudi Arabia  Updated 2 May 2013, 22:37 AEST  ABC RADIO – AUSTRALIA  The Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has defended his department’s handling of the case of an Australian man accused of terror offences in Saudi Arabia.  Australian man detained on terrorisim charges in Saudi Arabia (Credit: ABC)   Shayden Jamil Thorne has been in detention since 2011 after Saudi authorities allegedly found terrorism-related material on his laptop.  He says the laptop was borrowed from a mosque and has denied the charges.  His brother, Julaid Thorne, has been arrested for protesting his brother’s detention and last night told the ABC his passport had been confiscated by authorities.  Interview with Ibrahim Almugaiteeb:  Anna Hipsley spoke to Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, a human rights lawyer based in Saudi Arabia and the founder and President of the Human Rights First Society, an organisation that remains unlicensed by Saudi Arabia 12 years after it was established.  Listen to interview 

 Saudi Arabia moves to stamp out new human rights NGO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 1 May 2013 Four founding members of a nascent human rights group in Saudi Arabia have been interrogated and intimidated in their attempt to get their organization off the ground, Amnesty International said.  In recent days, the four men who founded the independent Union for Human Rights in late March have been called in for questioning by the Saudi Arabian authorities. They remain at risk of being detained at any time.  More …

Many Saudi dissidents are intimidated into silence – Interview with Ibrahim Almugaiteeb, a veteran human rights activist in Saudi Arabia and President of Human Rights First Society, SA.   Jørgen Lohne, Aftenposten’s Middle East Correspondent Published: 29.apr. 2013 3:52 p.m. Updated: 29.apr. 2013 3:52 p.m.  More…

REFORMISTS KEPT IN PRISON  AMNESTY URGENT ACTION (UA: 107/13 Index: MDE 23/014/2013 Saudi Arabia)  April 24, 2013 Six reformist prisoners of conscience have been kept behind bars, while 10 others, several of whom were out on bail, are now released under a “pardon” on condition that they give up their activism.  Ten men were released under a royal “pardon” in January, but only if they signed a pledge not to repeat their offences or engage in public activism, and thanked the King. Six others held with them and not released are prisoners of conscience: Dr Suliaman al-Rashudi, Dr Saud al-Hashimi, Dr Musa al-Qirni, Abdul Rahman al- Shumayri,  Abdul Rahman Khan and Abdullah al-Rifa’i.  At least two of these men are understood to have been offered the same conditional release but rejected it.  More…

HRW   APRIL 20, 2013  Saudi Arabia: End Prosecution of Human Rights Lawyer: Prominent Advocate Faces Prison for ‘Offending the Judiciary’    (Beirut) – Saudi authorities should immediately halt the 18-month prosecution of a Jeddah-based human rights lawyer. The charges against Walid Abu al-Khair, which include “offending the judiciary” and “attempting to distort the reputation of the kingdom,” are based solely on the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said.  More… Arabic   English

 HRW  April 12, 2013  Saudi Arabia: Huge Obstacles for First Woman Lawyer  Need Protection From Discrimination, End to Guardianship Restrictions  (Beirut, April 12, 2013) – Saudi authorities need to lift the many obstacles facing the first woman to train as a lawyer in Saudi Arabia before she can enter the profession on an equal basis with men, Human Rights Watch said today.  More…

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL  PUBLIC STATEMENT  10 April 2013  Saudi Arabia: 2013 promises to be a dark year for freedom of expression and of association  During the first quarter of 2013, the Saudi Arabian authorities have resorted to additional measures to augment  those  they have previously used to repress freedom of expression and of association.  Amnesty International is calling on the Saudi Arabian authorities to end such repressive practices and to allow all individuals in Saudi Arabia to peacefully exercise these rights.  More…   in Arabic   in English

Saudi Arabia punishes two activists for voicing opinion  Amnesty International  11 March 2013  The sentencing of two human rights activists to five and 10 years’ imprisonment in Saudi Arabia is yet another stain on the country’s record when it comes to attacking free expression, Amnesty International said today as it named the activists “prisoners of conscience”.

Dr Abdullah bin Hamid bin Ali al-Hamid, 66, and Mohammad bin Fahad bin Muflih al-Qahtani, 47, co-founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), a human rights organization that helps many families of detainees held without charge or trial, were sentenced to five and 10 years in prison respectively.

Travel bans equal in length to their terms of imprisonment will also be applied to them after they finish serving their prison sentences.

The court also ordered the disbanding of the organization, confiscation of its property and the shutting down of its social media accounts.  More…