Saudi Arabian human rights defender, Issa al-Hamid, who received a nine year prison term for his work promoting human rights, had his sentence increased today to 11 years in prison, followed by a travel ban of equal duration as well as a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals (around 27,000 US Dollars) following an appeal.
Responding to today’s court ruling by the counter-terror court in Riyadh, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office said:
“Today’s ruling by the Saudi Arabian counter-terror court is yet another demonstration of the authorities’ continuous ruthless and relentless crackdown on human rights defenders. The appeal presented an important opportunity to correct a deeply flawed ruling. Instead, the authorities chose to proceed with their unabated persecution of human rights defenders by increasing an already unfounded sentence.
“Issa al-Hamid has shown tremendous courage in the face of blatantly unfair proceedings which appear designed to silence those who dare expose the Kingdom’s incessant human rights violations. His increased sentence is another nail in the coffin that the government is trying to build for Saudi Arabian civil society.
“Issa al-Hamid and his two brothers, Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and Dr Abdulrahman al-Hamid, along with many others have paid a high price for their courage and devotion to defending human rights. These people should be protected and recognized, not sentenced and imprisoned. Saudi Arabia’s authorities must urgently quash the unjust conviction of Issa al-Hamid and all other human rights defenders who have been convicted in connection with their peaceful activism.”
Issa al-Hamid is a founding member of Saudi Arabia’s Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) an independent human rights organization which was shut down by the Saudi Arabian authorities in 2013. All of its founding members have been sentenced to prison terms in connection with their peaceful human rights activities and seven are currently imprisoned. Amnesty International considers those who are jailed prisoners of conscience and demands their immediate and unconditional release.