On Sunday, 29 May, 2016, the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) sentenced Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, the founding member of the Saudi Civil Political Rights Association (ACPRA) to eight years in prison, an eight-year travel ban, and a ban from writing on social media. This law came after a series of judgments issued against all 11 founding members of ACPRA, who have been jailed one by one for lengthy imprisonment after shutting down their association.
Abdulaziz al-Shubaily has been charged since the beginning of his trial in October 2014 with a number of offences before the SCC in Riyadh. He refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Specialized Criminal Court saying it is assigned to try cases of terror-related crimes. Among the charges which all belong to the expression of his opinion are: “incitement to breach public order”, “call for demonstrations”, “accuse the security forces of exercising repression and torture”, “contribute in founding unlicensed Association (ACPRA), and participate in formulating its statements, “prepare, storage and send data which affect public order.”
The Human Rights Activist has declared that at the inquests he refused to sign a pledge to stop his activism. The investigator also stated that al-Shubaily was determining to call for his reformist demands as long as the human rights in his country are being violated.
Abdulaziz al-Shubaily who is specialized in business administration and has studied International Law and Law, is a key founding member in ACPRA, who joined it in the beginning of 2010. He started to work on legal cases and represented many people since five years ago, he also pleaded for women who had no supporters. After the Specialized Criminal Court has been set up and the ACPRA’s members have been prosecuted, al-Shubaily worked as a member of the defense team for Dr, Mohammed al-Kahtani and Dr. Abdul al-Hamid. He also represented three of his colleagues, Dr. Abdulkarim al-Khoudr, Omar as-Saiid, and the engineer, Fawzan al-Harbi, before the judge in a trial. He also had lots of contributions and writings in social media about political reforms.
It is worth mentioning that all ACPRA’s founding members have been sentenced to prison: Abdulaziz al-Shubaily (8 years), Issa al-Hamid (9 years), Dr. Abdul Rahman al-Hamid (9 years), Dr. Abdul Karim al-Khoudr (10 years), Omar as-Sayyed (2 years and 6 months), Mohammed al-Bajadi (4 years), Sheik Suleiman al-Rashoudi (10 years), Dr. Abdallah al-Hamid (11 years), Dr. Mohammed al-Kahtani (10 years), Fawzan al-Harbi (10 years), while Saleh al-Ashwan (is still detained without being tried or charged with any offence).
In this context, the Saudi Organization for Rights and Freedoms (SAOR), condemns the ongoing campaign of repression against civil society activists, especially that their trials are associated with only exercising their right to freedom of expression and opinion, and their trials also lack many of the fair trials principles which make them illegal.
SAORF also expresses its deep concern about the marginalization practiced by the Saudi authorities against all detainees of conscience, whether in their statements or through the media blackout imposed on any news about them. It is worth mentioning that the ruling against al-Shubaily has been issued on the eve of the issuance of the royal pardon on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, which did not include any of the peaceful detainees of conscience.
The Organization also points out that charging Abdulaziz al-Shubaily and other human rights defenders in ACPRA with the offences of “establishing unlicensed organization”, although a new ruling related to “associations” has been issued on November 2015, but it came to restrain freedoms and it also lacks any reference to “human rights organizations”.
The Saudi Organization for Rights and Freedoms calls upon the Saudi authorities to:
• Drop all charges against the activist al-Shubaily immediately and unconditionally.
• Stop using the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) set up to try terrorism cases and national security in cases of human rights defenders.
• Cancel the issued ruling and release immediately all human right defenders and prisoners of conscience in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose detentions are related only to their legitimate and peaceful activism in promoting and protecting human rights.
• Allow the human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia to exercise their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisal and with no significant restrictions including judicial harassment.
The Organization also urges the official authorities to be committed to the international and local conventions and laws that prevent the prosecution of individuals based on their opinion and beliefs and exercising their right to freedom of expression.