Dear Ambassador Abdulrahman bin Suleiman Al-Ahmad,
please allow us to hereby express our deep concern about the situation of Rafi Badawi and our profound disturbance about him having been subjected to flogging and the threat of further flogging.
Raif Badawi was sentenced by the Criminal Court in Jeddah on 7 May 2014 to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, followed by a 10-year travel ban, a ban on using media outlets, and a fine of one million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600). The conviction and sentence stemmed from Raif Badawi’s creation of the Saudi Arabian Liberals website (which the court ordered to be closed) and the accusation that he had “insulted Islam”. The Court of Appeal in Jeddah upheld the sentence on 1 September. According to the final court decision, he will be receiving no more than 50 lashes per session, with a break of no less than a week between sessions.
On 9 January Mr Badawi received his first set of 50 lashes. According to witnesses he was publicly flogged in front of the al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah in an ordeal that lasted around 15 minutes. According to information from Amnesty International the imprisoned Human Rights Defender will be flogged for a second time on Friday 16 January.
We are profoundly disturbed at the flogging that is a vicious act of cruelty and a flagrant violation of the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment in international law. We call on you to use your power responsibly and to put a stop to any further flogging of Raif Badawi.
Being a prisoner who is solely detained for exercising his right to freedom of expression, Mr Badawi must be immediately and unconditionally released. We urge you to ensure that his conviction and sentence are quashed.
We are hoping that you will take a decision, which is in line with international human rights law.
BILBAO BARANDICA Izaskun
CALVET CHAMBON Enrique
GOMES Ana Maria
MOSCA Alessia Maria
PANZERI Pier Antonio
SCOTT CATO Molly