An unfair trial, an incompetent court, a private attorney accused of a crime that is not a crime, and a punishment and that constitutes torture: Saudi Arabia has violated its own laws in addition to its international obligations over the case of Raif Badawi, said Lawyers Without Borders Canada in a submission to be made public today.
The judgment against Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, “should be annulled” as the procedure was “flawed” according to Lawyers Without Borders Canada (CBSA).
The organization will release its report this morning in favour of the release of Raif Badawi, the fruit of several months of research work to develop legal arguments to defend the Saudi blogger and which may be useful to anyone who has to intervene in the case.
“It is essential to have a legal reading of the record,” welcomed Alex Neve, Director General of Amnesty for French Canada, speaking of a “really important work, based on a legal analysis, non-partisan, non-activist “.
Fifteen staff and volunteers of CBSA, the Quebec Bar, the law firm Lavery and academia have reviewed about thirty documents, laws and decrees of Saudi Arabia as well as international treaties ratified by Riyadh.
The 16-page document that La Presse was able to produce, concludes that Saudi Arabia has not only “violated” its international commitments, but also “violated” its own law in this case.
These findings undermine the defence of Riyadh, which last March rejected international criticism of Raif Badawi, arguing that his “own constitution based on Sharia law guarantees human rights”.
Raif Badawi should not even have been tried by the Criminal Court in Jeddah – which rendered the original judgment – since the Saudi law stipulates that complaints related to issues of electronic publications are not within the jurisdiction of the Shari’a courts, one of which is the court of Jeddah, but “special committees of the Ministry of Culture and Information” indicates CBSA.
The memorandum also points out that even though Raif Badawi was convicted of crimes… he was not even formally charged.
“Mr. [Raif] Badawi was denied the right to know all the charges against him and, consequently, did not have the time and facilities to prepare his defence.”
Raif Badawi was not given “right to counsel of his choice”, contrary to the Arab Charter on Human Rights that Saudi Arabia ratified and is another “violation of the right to a fair trial,” notes CBSA.
In addition, when the Saudi Supreme Court reviewed his case last summer, Raif Badawi was unable to raise anydefence, says the report.
THIS IS NOT A CRIME
The CBSA memory even questioned the legitimacy of the initial indictment Raif Badawi, as the Arab Charter on Human Rights guarantees “the right to freedom of opinion and expression”, that only hate speech or defamation may limit.
But “the words that accuse Mr. Badawi are well short of the minimum threshold of incitement to hatred or hatred”, wrote CBSA, considering that the publications Raif Badawi “should not constitute offences and should in no way be criminalized.”
Finally, CBSA stressed that the condemnation of Raif Badawi to receive 1000 lashes is another violation of international commitments made Riyadh, this time on the prohibition of torture.
The Saudi Embassy in Ottawa did not respond to press calls or emails.