Saudi human rights defender Mohammed Al Rabiah sentenced to six years in prison

Saudi human rights defender Mohammed Al Rabiah sentenced to six years in prison

Mohammed Al Rabiah is a Saudi human rights defender who was arrested on May 15, 2018 during a wave of arrests of human rights activists denouncing the male guardianship system. On March 21, 2021, his case was transferred to the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court (SCC). On April 20, 2021, Al Rabiah was sentenced to six years in prison

Mohammed Al Rabiah is a Saudi human rights defender who was arrested on May 15, 2018 during a campaign of arrests against women human rights defenders and campaigners against the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia, as well as several men who advocated for women’s rights in the country. Further arrests followed between May and July 2018 and targeted lawyers of activists and human rights defenders. Al Rabiah had previously been targeted by the authorities for supporting Saudi women’s right to drive.

After his arrest, Al Rabiah was subjected, for months, to brutal torture in detention, in an unknown location. Al Rabiah, who suffers from a herniated disc, was tortured by electric shocks and waterboarding; held in a small wardrobe for several days, unable to sit or sleep; hung upside down by his feet; and beaten until unconscious. This situation lasted for roughly a year. He was also starved during his first year of detention and was taunted by being offered empty food trays. He was only able to eat snacks during family visits, which were permitted just once a month. Though it is not confirmed where exactly Al Rabiah was being detained during his first year in detention, it was reported that he was in Dhahban Prison in Jeddah, where he is currently located.

On March 21, 2021, his case was transferred to the SCC, and he is currently at risk of a lengthy prison term, with the Public Prosecution calling for a 25-year sentence and a travel ban on the basis of ta’zir (the judge’s discretion), and under several other articles, including article 6 of the Anti-Cybercrime Law and Articles 53 and 55 of the Law on Combating Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing.

The charges brought against him relate to his peaceful activism and include “seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion”, “instigating strife”, “carrying out foreign agendas that disrupt the kingdom’s security and stability”, and “authorising and publishing a book containing suspicious trends”. The next hearing of his trial is set to take place on April 20, 2021.

On April 14, 2021, MENA Rights Group and ALQST for Human Rights sent an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, asking her to call on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Al Rabiah and other detained activists.

On April 20, 2021, Mohammed Al Rabiah was sentenced to six years in prison.

Timeline

April 20, 2021: Al Rabiah is sentenced to six years in prison.
April 14, 2021: MENA Rights Group and ALQST for Human Rights request the urgent intervention of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
March 21, 2021: Nearly three years after his arrest, Al Rabiah’s case is transferred to the Saudi Specialised Criminal court. The Public Prosecution calls for a 25-year sentence and a travel ban.
May 15, 2018: Al Rabiah is arrested.

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