Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (14 March) in response to reports about the renewed conviction of a human rights activist in Saudi Arabia:
I am shocked to hear that Issa al‑Hamid, a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), has again been convicted and sentenced to many years in prison. It is unacceptable for people to be locked up for expressing political opinions.
I call on the Saudi Arabian Government to defend its citizens’ right to freedom of expression. Unhampered dialogue with the various groups within civil society is not a threat to national security. On the contrary, freedom of expression strengthens a society and makes it more resistant to extremists.
A Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced the Saudi Arabian human rights activist Issa al‑Hamid to eleven years in prison and to a travel ban of a further eleven years. The conviction is now final.
Issa al‑Hamid is a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). Since the organisation was banned more than three years ago, many of its founding members have been arrested and handed long prison sentences. The accusations levelled at them include criticism of the government, incitement to protest and membership of an unauthorised organisation.