The campaign to release Raif Badawi who was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for blogging about freedom of expression and sentenced to weekly floggings is prominent in the news.
I am just catching up with the plight of Waleed Abu al-Khair who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for his stand on human rights. He founded The Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the charges against him (such as inflaming public opinion and undermining the regime) indicate how far the Saudi government will go to prevent calls for greater freedom. Waleed refused to recognise the court’s legitimacy, and who could blame him?
Saudi Arabia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reported on 4 April 2014 ” In its opinion No. 42/2011, concerning Saudi Arabia, the Working Group noted with concern a consistent pattern of arrest and detention of persons exercising their basic human rights, in particular their right to freedom of opinion, expression and association… The case under consideration is another instance of the widespread failure in Saudi Arabia to comply with basic human rights obligations.”