Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (14 July) on the conviction of the Saudi Arabian human rights activist and lawyer Waleed Abu al‑Khair:
I am deeply concerned about the conviction of Waleed Abu al‑Khair, who peacefully campaigned for human rights. His imprisonment is a setback for the important work of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
I call on the Saudi Arabian Government to respect and guarantee the right to freedom of expression. The Saudi Arabian authorities must work to ensure that trial procedure, imprisonment and prison conditions adhere to rule‑of‑law standards.
On 6 July 2014, Waleed Abu al‑Khair, a prominent human rights activist and lawyer, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 15‑year travel ban to be applied after his release. The trial took place before the Specialised Criminal Court, which is responsible for upholding state security and combating terrorism. Waleed Abu Al‑Khair is the first prominent human rights activist to be convicted under Saudi Arabia’s new anti‑terrorism law.