KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA: Every lash of Raif Badawi defies international law

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18 Jun 2015
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Individual at risk

Each of the remaining 950 lashes the Saudi Arabian authorities plan to inflict upon dissident blogger Raif Badawi will bludgeon freedom of expression and make a mockery of the country’s international human rights obligations, Amnesty International warned amid fears his public flogging could resume as soon as tomorrow.

These fears have been heightened after Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court announced in the media on 6 June it had upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Raif Badawi, with no room to appeal the ruling.

After languishing behind bars for five months since his last public flogging, the looming threat of a resumption of this cruel and inhuman punishment has hung over Raif Badawi. By upholding his sentence in flagrant defiance of the international prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has made clear the authorities are not seeking justice, but to make an example of him and to eviscerate freedom of expression.

Millions of Amnesty International supporters and other activists, journalists and political leaders around the world have spoken out loud and clear: Raif Badawi is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally. This outrageously cruel punishment must be stopped and the authorities must quash Raif Badawi’s conviction and sentence.
Raif Badawi was originally sentenced in May 2014 for setting up an online forum for public debate and for “insulting Islam”. The first 50 lashes were administered in a public square in Jeddah on 9 January, but further floggings were delayed, initially due to medical concerns and then for unknown reasons.

Ensaf Haidar, the blogger’s wife, and their three children have been granted asylum in Canada, from where she has campaigned extensively for his release.

“The holy month of Ramadan which is about to begin has traditionally been an occasion for release of prisoners. Accordingly, we urge King Salman to make this the occasion to free Raif Badawi and reunite him with his family, who have also suffered every brutal step of his unfair trial and punishment,” said Said Boumedouha.

11 June 2015

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