The following statement was originally published on gc4hr.org on 3 June 2016.
On 29 May 2016, human rights defender Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili was sentenced to eight years in prison for his peaceful and legitimate human rights work in Saudi Arabia.
In a hearing which took place on 29 May 2016, the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh sentenced Al-Shubaili to eight years in prison followed by another eight years of a travel ban to start after he serves his sentence. Also the court decided not to allow him to write any more. He was accused of many charges including allegedly publishing a statement calling for demonstrations; accusing judges of dishonesty and human rights violations; and preparing, storing and sending data affecting public order. He was also sentenced for participating in an unauthorised association, the Civil and Political Rights Association in Saudi Arabia (ACPRA), and his contribution to the drafting of its statements, as well as failing to comply with the judicial decision to dissolve ACPRA.
Al-Shubaili was summoned to Al-Qassim's prosecution and interrogation department on 18 November 2013 and interrogated in four sessions, the last one held on 17 December 2013. He was asked by the police to bring someone to bail him out on 14 January 2014. The case was then referred to Judge Mohammed Al-Zahrani at the SCC, which held its first hearing on 27 October 2014. On 20 April 2016, the judge postponed the hearing in which the verdict was to be announced due to an additional submission by the Attorney General in the Criminal Court. Reports confirmed that this submission was aimed at doubling the sentence against him.
Al-Shubaili is a principal member of the ACPRA who participated in the defence team on behalf of many of his fellow members of ACPRA. Also he has used social media networks to call for reform and defend people's rights in Saudi Arabia.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the eight-year prison sentence against Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili. GCHR believes that the ruling, which was issued after a mock trial that did not follow international standards and due process, is part of an ongoing trend adopted by the authorities, which includes the prosecution, arrest, torture, and judicial harassment of human rights defenders in the Kingdom.
The GHCR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
- Immediately and unconditionally revoke the sentence against Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili and drop all charges against him; and
- Immediately release all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia whose detention is a result of their peaceful and legitimate work in the promotion and protection of human rights.