Raif Badawi still in jail in Saudi Arabia for a blog critical of the Saudi Arabian government. It was a non-violent expression of his opinion that led to a sentence of 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes. The Committee of Concerned Scientists has written the new leader of Saudi Arabia in hopes that he will review the case with new eyes and honor the human rights commitments to which Saudi Arabia is a party.
November 29, 2017
His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
c/o Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Fax: (202) 944-5983
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the
protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We are writing to express our profound concern at the sentencing of blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes
for “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” This sentence was imposed on Mr. Badawi for peacefully exercising his fundamental
right to freedom of expression.
The flogging portion of Raif Badawi’s sentence reportedly was to be carried out in increments of 50 lashes per week for 20 weeks. But
the first round of lashings was so severe that they caused injuries that did not heal in time to allow for the second round a week
later. The case was then referred to Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court, which upheld the full sentence. Subsequent flogging sessions have not
yet occurred, but we understand that Badawi’s wife has been informed that the flogging may soon be resumed.
Subjecting Raif Badawi to 50 lashes per week for a period of 20 weeks is cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. It violates
international law and amounts to torture. As a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture, your government is obligated to
prevent such torturous punishments and we strongly urge you to ensure that Raif Badawi is not subjected to any additional flogging.
As a state party to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, your government is obligated to refrain from physical torture or from “cruel,
inhuman, degrading treatment”, and to respect “freedom of thought, conscience and opinion”.
Raif Badawi was convicted solely for exercising rights outlined in the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Freedom of opinion and expression
are also guaranteed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We urge you, therefore, to overturn his conviction and
immediately and unconditionally set Raif Badawi free. Given the suffering he has already endured, it is vital that, until he is released,
he be given access to health care, as well as access to family and legal representation
In watching your actions as regards freedom of expression and lifestyles in Saudi Arabia, CCS felt that your open-minded approach to
your citizens may open a door for a re-examination of Badawi’s case and it is in this light that we are bringing this to your attention.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists