Following the death of prominent Saudi human rights defender Abdullah al-Hamid in prison, Subcommittee on Human Rights Chair Maria Arena (S&D, BE) stated:
“I am shocked to hear that one of Saudi Arabia’s leading human rights voices has passed away in prison at the age of 69, while serving an 11-year prison sentence. Professor al-Hamid was a pioneer in advocating for Saudi Arabia to recognise the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and for reforms leading towards the establishment of the rule of law, including accountable institutions. He dedicated his whole life to fighting against harmful practices and to protecting all those defending basic rights and freedoms in his country.
Saudi authorities were aware of Professor al-Hamid’s poor health since early 2020. Denying proper medical care to detainees is a violation of the right to life and a form of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. This is not only morally wrong, it is unacceptable.
Prominent Saudi women’s rights defenders and human rights activists, including Sakharov Prize laureate Raïf Badawi, are currently being detained for peacefully exercising their basic rights, including the right to freedom of expression. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and at a time when joint efforts are needed to defeat the virus, including in places of detention, I strongly encourage the Saudi authorities to take steps to release all human rights defenders and to apply preventive and protective health measures without discrimination."
Many Saudi human rights activists, women’s rights activists, and peaceful dissidents are currently detained in the country on accusations that relate to human rights work. They include: Waleed Abu al-Khair, Loujain al-Hathloul, Nouf Abdelaziz, Mayaa al-Zahrani, Samar Badawi, Nassema al-Sadah, Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, Fadhil al-Manasif, Abdulkareem al-Khodr, Fowzan al-Harbi, Raif Badawi, Saleh al-Ashwan, Abdulrahman al-Hamid, Zuhair Kutbi, Alaa Brinji, Nadhir al-Majed, Issa al-Nukheifi, Essam Koshak, Mohammad al-Otaibi, Abdullah al-Attawi, Fahad al-Fahad and princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.