Waleed Abu al-Khair is one of the best-known voices for democratic and human rights reforms in Saudi Arabia. As a lawyer he has been an outspoken advocate for an elected parliament, an independent judiciary, a constitutional monarchy and recognition of human rights. He has also advocated on behalf of prisoners of conscience and written many articles identifying human rights abuses and the need for legal reform. His contribution to the recognition of human rights, democratic reform and an independent judiciary has led to his own trial. There he, even more so than before, experienced firsthand the destructive power of a failed legal system with no actual checks and balances and few regards to basic human rights.
Waleed is more than a lawyer in Saudi Arabia. He has become the voice for democratic reforms and freedom of speech. He is well known for his criticism of the non-codified laws in Saudi Arabia and his representation of a number of defendants in the case of Jeddah reformers, including Dr. Mossa bin Mohammed Al-Qarni, Dr. Saud al-Hashimiand and Dr. Abdul Rahman al-Shumaimri. Furthermore, he represented Raif Badawi, organizer of the Saudi Liberal Network internet discussion group, after Badawi was arrested and charged with ‘committing violations of legitimacy’ and ‘insulting the Divine self’. Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a fine, and 1,000 lashes to be administered 50 lashes at a time.
In April 2012 the Government of Saudi Arabia banned Waleed from traveling outside Saudi Arabia. On 15 April 2014, Waleed was arrested while appearing at the fifth session of his trial before the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. On 28 May, at the seventh session of the Petitioner’s trial before the Specialized Criminal Court, Judge Yousef Al-Ghamdi stated that the Petitioner was charged under the Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing, Royal Decree No. 44 (12/2013). He has been accused of asking for a constitutional monarchy, contempt of the judiciary, harming the Kingdom’s image, and contacting human rights organizations.
The latest news with regard to Waleed is that he has been beaten in detention. Below you will find a link to his Curriculum Vitae for a list of his work and his contribution to enhance human rights for all people in Saudi Arabia.
L4L has nominated Waleed for the 2015 IBA Human Rights Award, because of his contributions tot the promotion of human rights, his advocacy against the poor human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia and his work as a lawyer defending the rights of others in the courts of Saudi Arabia.
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) and the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) called on the authorities of Saudi Arabia to immediately release lawyer Waleed Abu al – Khair. Waleed Abu al – Khair was sentenced toRead more
On 10 December – Human Rights Day- people from all over the world will write letters. For those who are in prison, who are tortured or who are threatened. Among them are many lawyers that Lawyers for Lawyers is campaigning for.Read more
Today, human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair will be awarded with the Ludovic Trarieux Prize. As Abu al-Khair is currently serving a prison sentence of 15 years, his lawyer Daniel Arshack will accept the prize on his behalf. Waleed AbuRead more
On 12 June, the jury of the Ludovic Trarieux human rights prize announced that this year’s laureate is Waleed Abu al-Khair from Saudi Arabia, who is currently serving a prison sentence of fifteen years. Waleed Abu al-Khair is a prominent humanRead more