Prize | 26.06.2019

Waleed Abu al-Khair Recipient of the 2019 American Bar Association International Human Rights Award

The American Bar Association announced that it will honour Saudi Waleed Abu al-Khair with its 2019 ABA International Human Rights Award for “his work to advance human rights and advocate for justice in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.
UIA welcomes ABA’s decision that sends Waleed Abu al-Khair a powerful message of international support and encouragement and conveys a strong signal to the Saudi authorities.

Waleed Abu al-Khair is a prominent lawyer, human rights activist, and founder of the association “Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia”. Recipient of the 2012 Olof Palme Prize and the 2015 Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Award, he has provided legal representation to many victims of human rights violations. Among them is Raif Badawi, an online blogger and activist, whose sentence to 10 years’ imprisonment, a heavy fine, and 1,000 lashes has drawn unanimous condemnation from around the world.

Waleed Abu al-Khair has been arbitrarily imprisoned since April 2014, and unfairly sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in 2015 after being found guilty of several charges, including “attempting to overthrow legitimate authorities”, “an attack against public order, the State and its authorities”, “criticising and insulting the Justice system”, “attacking the reputation of the Kingdom and inciting international organisations to be hostile to the Kingdom”, and “violating Saudi law against cybercrimes."

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has twice reviewed the legitimacy of Saudi Arabia’s detention of Abu al-Khair and twice recommended his immediate release.

Waleed Abu al-Khair’s detention and sentencing stem solely from the peaceful exercise of his freedom of expression, as well as his legitimate work as a human rights defender.

The UIA calls once again for Waleed Abu al-Khair’s immediate and unconditional release.