MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Saudi Arabia, the case of Mr Raif Badawi
10.2.2015 - (2015/2550(RSP))
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure
Marietje Schaake, Robert Rochefort, Fernando Maura Barandiarán, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Ivo Vajgl, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Marielle de Sarnez, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Pavel Telička, Juan Carlos Girauta Vidal, Fredrick Federley, Kaja Kallas, Petras Auštrevičius, Hilde Vautmans, Ivan Jakovčić, Jozo Radoš, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Filiz Hyusmenova, Gérard Deprez, Louis Michel, Martina Dlabajová, Dita Charanzová on behalf of the ALDE Group
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0143/2015
European Parliament resolution on Saudi Arabia, the case of Mr Raif Badawi
The European Parliament,
– having regard to its previous resolutions of 11 March 2014 on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa, of 13 December 2007 on Women's rights in Saudi Arabia, and of 10 March 2005 on Saudi Arabia,
- having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of HR/VP for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Morgherini on 9 January 2015,
- having regard to art. 5 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
– having regard to UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
– having regard to art. 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which declares everyone's right to freedom of expression, and art. 4 which prohibits torture,
– having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, adopted in June 2004, and reviewed in 2008,
– having regard to the Arab Charter on Human Rights whose art. 32 par. 1 guarantees the right to information and freedom of opinion and expression, and art. 8 prohibits physical or psychological torture or cruel, degrading, humiliating or inhuman treatment,
– having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas Raif Badawi, a journalist and human rights activist and a 31-year-old father of three, was sentenced by the Criminal Court of Jeddah in May 2014 to 10 years in prison, 1 000 lashes and a fine of 1 million riyals (228.000 EUR) after creating a website for social, political and religious debate and solely exercising his freedom of expression; whereas he is also banned from using social media indefinitely and from leaving the country ten years after his release;
B. whereas Raif Badawi was charged with apostasy, among other charges such as undermining the regime, and his case was therefore strictly handled by the sharia court;
C. whereas on 9 January 2015 Mr Badawi received his first set of 50 lashes in front of the Al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah in an appalling ordeal that lasted around 15 minutes, resulting in wounds so profound that when Mr Badawi was taken to a prison clinic for a medical check-up, it was found by the doctors that he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes;
D. whereas Raif Badawi has been denied access to his relatives and lawyer, as well as to medical personnel; whereas on 6 July 2014, Raif Badawi’s lawyer, prominent human rights defender Waleed Abu al-Khair, was sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court to 15 years in prison, to be followed by a 15-year travel ban;
E. whereas prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is included in all international and regional human rights instruments, and constitutes a rule of customary international law, which is thus binding on all states, independent of whether they have ratified the relevant international agreements;
F. whereas flogging and other forms of corporal judicial punishment are contrary to human dignity and constitute torture according to the definition provided by the UN Convention Against Torture; whereas the EU has expressed several times its objection to any such treatment or punishment under any circumstance;
G. whereas freedom of expression both online and offline are universal human rights;
H. whereas although Internet is widely used and Saudi Arabia has the highest number of active Twitter users in the region, Internet is heavily censored, with over 400 000 websites being blocked and new blogs and websites needing a license of the Ministry of Information; whereas Saudi Arabia is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet” due to the censorship of the Saudi media and the Internet and punishment of those who criticise the government or religion;
I. whereas the case of Mr Badawi is one of many cases in which harsh sentences and harassment were used against Saudi activists persecuted for expressing their views, several of whom have been convicted, under procedures which fall short of international fair trial standards, as has been confirmed by the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in July 2014;
J. whereas the proceedings of Mr Badawi's trial are not considered to be fair or to meet due process criteria;
K. whereas Saudi Arabian authorities claim to be a partner to EU Members States, notably in the war on terror;
1. Condemns the unjust detention and cruel punishment of Raif Badawi solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and calls on the Saudi Arabia authorities that the remaining sentence be immediately suspended and ultimately revoked; Calls on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.
2. Equally condemns the fact that Raif Badawi was denied access to his family and legal counsel.
3. Calls on the Saudi authorities to ensure that Raif Badawi is given any medical attention he may require, as well as immediate and regular access to his family and lawyers of his choice.
4. Calls on Saudi Arabia to stop charging activists with charges such as apostasy that restrict the exercise of freedoms and are punishable by death penalty.
5. Is concerned by the number of executions of prisoners sentenced to death and calls on the Saudi authorities to suspend the death penalty as well as the execution of any barbaric corporal punishment and to respect the prohibition of torture and to respect the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Saudi Arabia has signed and ratified; Calls on Saudi Arabia to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
6. Reminds the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that membership of the UN Human Rights Council brings with it responsibilities that it does not meet.
7. Reiterates that criticizing political or religious office-holders on social media should not be considered as a criminal offence but as an exercise of freedom of expression.
8. Calls on the Saudi authorities to show leadership and to ensure pluralism and a public debate are possible in the country.
9. Is concerned about the effectiveness of Saudi Arabia in fighting terrorist organizations such as IS, as it is allowing for similar corporal punishment to be applied.
10. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative/Vice-President for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Arab Human Rights Committee, and the King and the Government of Saudi Arabia.