#AceNewsServices – GENEVA (15 May 2014) PRESS RELEASE – A group of UN human rights experts today expressed alarm at the conviction to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a 1 million Saudi riyal fine against Saudi on-line activist and blogger, Raef Badawi.
“This outrageous conviction should be overturned and Mr. Badawi immediately released,” said the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez and the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mads Andenas.
“Mr. Badawi is a prisoner of conscience, who has been convicted for peacefully expressing his views on religious and other issues,” they added.
The UN experts also urged the Government of Saudi Arabia to “embark on more comprehensive reforms to bring their judicial system in compliance with international standards.”
The human rights experts stressed that “Mr. Badawi was imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression” and recalled the right of all people to “freely manifest their views in matters of religion or belief and to write, issue and disseminate information and ideas in these areas through any media without interference.”
They expressed further concern that “the detention and charges brought against Mr. Badawi appear to be part of an ongoing practice of prosecution against people who publicly express dissenting religious views in Saudi Arabia.”
Mr. Badawi, the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, was detained in June 2012 on charges of “founding a liberal website,” “adopting liberal thought” and for “insulting Islam”, after publishing a number of articles on his blog site and social media.
He was convicted in July 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. At the time, his lawyer claimed that his trial was marred by irregularities and contested the impartiality of the judicial process in the case.
In December 2013, an appeals court overturned his conviction and sent the case to Jeddah’s Criminal Court for review. However, last week, the Criminal Court dramatically toughened the sentence imposed to Mr. Badawi.
The UN experts reminded the Government of Saudi Arabia of the international standards concerning the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief, and the obligation to ensure that prisoners are treated humanely. “Corporal punishment, such as flogging, violates international law, which prohibits torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said the experts.
The UN experts condemned the cruelty of the punishment and recalled that such attacks against the physical and psychological integrity of a person represent an affront to the dignity inherent to all human beings.
Mr. Badawi plans to appeal this new Court decision. However, his attorney may not be present at the trial as he was recently detained and prosecuted for “undermining the image of the kingdom” and “breaking allegiance with the King.”
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#AceWorldNews – TEHRAN – May 15 – US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel says nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers will not undermine the security of the Persian Gulf region.
Hagel made the remarks on Wednesday in an opening speech to a conference with his Persian Gulf counterparts in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
He said Washington is hopeful of progress in the negotiations currently under-way in the Austrian capital Vienna between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States — plus Germany.
“As negotiations progress, I want to assure you of two things,” the Pentagon chief told the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain.
“First, these negotiations will under no circumstances trade away regional security for concessions on Iran’s nuclear program.”
#AceNewsServices – JEDDAH – May 09 – On 7 May, a criminal court in Jeddah sentenced blogger Raif Badawi to ten years in prison and a thousand lashes for “insulting Islam”. Badawi was prosecuted for developing “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, an on-line forum he launched in 2008 debating the role of religion in the conservative kingdom.
The 32-year-old was also ordered to pay a one million riyals fine (approximately US$266,600).
The verdict is subject to appeal. But Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, has also been jailed for setting up a human rights monitoring group, according to Human Rights Watch.http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/uaa00313_1.pdf
Arrested in June 2012 and tried in July 2013, Badawi originally was sentenced to six years in prison and 600 lashes. In December 2013, an appeals court overturned the initial verdict and referred the case back to the Jeddah Criminal Court.
Sad day for #humanRights #raifbadawi pic.twitter.com/zUTvOWe6Kg
— Yes we can (@Jihane_MD) May 7, 2014
Saudi Arabia, Britain’s ally & top arms customer, has sentenced blogger @raif_badawi to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes #IStandWithRaif
— Daniel Wickham (@DanielWickham93) May 8, 2014
On his website, Badawi and other contributors posted articles critical of Saudi religious authorities and declared May 7 a day for Saudi liberals.
السجن بسبب منتدى يرحب بالجميع أن يتحاور،أن يطرح قناعاته للنقاش! منذ متى يغير السجن الفكر؟! #الحكمعلىرائفبدوي pic.twitter.com/83g1ZznGXd
— طاهر الزهراني (@6aher_alzahrani) May 8, 2014
Jail over a forum that welcomed everyone to debate and present their arguments for discussion. Since when prison changes thought?
رائف كان ينتقد المجتمع الازدواجي و يدعوا للأنسانية و احترام الرأي الاخر اذا كانت هذه جريمه فانا مجرمة #السجن_10سنواتلرائف_بدوي
— أميمه Omaima (@Omaima) May 7, 2014
Raif criticized a double-standard society and called for humanity and respect for the other’s opinion. If this is a crime, then I declare myself a criminal
Prosecutors had previously charged Badawi with apostasy, a charge which could carry a death penalty in the Saudi kingdom.
Written by Afef Abrougui · Translated by Afef Abrougui · View original post [en] · comments (0)
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Global Advocacy – Human Rights Watch – Social Media
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#AceWorldNews – SAUDI ARABIA – May 04 – Saudi health authorities announced Saturday two new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, raising to 111 the number of fatalities since the disease appeared in the kingdom in September 2012.
A 25-year-old man has died in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and a woman of 69, who suffered from tuberculosis and anaemia, died in Mecca, also in western Saudi Arabia, the health ministry said.
It later said the death toll has now climbed to 111, revising its earlier figure of 109 deaths.
Saudi Health Ministry – WHO
#AceNewsServices – JEDDAH – May 01 – Maha Akeel, a Saudi journalist who was the managing editor of OIC journal, has been appointed the Director of Information and Public Relations at the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The appointment of a woman as a Director of a department is a shot-in-the-arm for women empowerment.
Speaking to Saudi Gazette she said that her new duties are to keep the public informed about OIC and its activities, to promote objective and strategies of the organization and to shed light on different initiatives of OIC.
She described the new position as “challenging” and a “big step” for women in the Islamic states and Saudi women in particular. “I have big responsibilities, however, with the support of the secretary-general and the help of my colleagues I will be able to do my duty.”
The challenge, she said, are less intense as she has been familiar with the work in the OIC having worked in the media department for seven years. “Women have been working in the OIC since 2006 when I first joined. We are now about 7 in number, and the secretary-general is looking forward to employ more women.”
The newly appointed OIC secretary-general is Iyad Madani, who is the former Saudi minister of information.
Maha denied that her new position has been given to her based on her nationality. She added, “I had to fight for this!”
Contributions By Fatima Muhammad – Saudi Gazette
Thursday, 1 May 2014
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#AceHealthNews – RIYADH – April 22 – Saudi Arabia’s health minister, Abdullah al-Rabeeah, has been replaced by Labour minister Adel Fakieh as the kingdom struggles to contain the surge of new cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Rabeeah has been made an adviser to the Royal Court, Monarch’s decree said.
Last week, the kingdom confirmed an additional 49 cases, mostly in the port city of Jeddah.
Overall, Saudi Arabia has acknowledged 244 cases of MERS since 2012, of which 79 have died. MERS is a viral infection that causes pneumonia-like symptoms.
So far, about 30 percent of people with known infections have died.
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#AceWorldNews – RIYADH – April 06 – (DWN) – Saudi Arabia’s supreme court has upheld a death sentence handed down against a teacher convicted of kidnapping and raping eight young girls, a local daily reported on Sunday.
A lower court in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah had found the man guilty last year of kidnapping girls aged between six and 11 from public areas and taking them to his home to rape them, the Makkah newspaper reported without giving his name.
His last victim, a nine-year-old whom he abducted from a wedding hall, was able to guide police to the area of Jeddah where he lived, leading to his arrest in 2011.
Earlier reports said the man was 42 at the time of his arrest, and married with four children.
He reportedly offered the girls sweets to lure them into his car, and sent his family away while he raped his victims in the family home.
Rape is one of a raft of crimes punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. Others include murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking.
DWN – Reuters – AP