A group of United Nations Special Rapporteurs has issued a statement strongly criticizing Saudi Arabia over the brutal sentence handed down against Raif Badawi for nothing more than expressing the fact that he’s an atheist and creating a platform to allow others to do so.
A group of United Nations human rights experts today expressed alarm at the conviction to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a 1 million Saudi riyal fine against Saudi online activist and blogger, Raef Badawi.
“This outrageous conviction should be overturned and Mr. Badawi immediately released,” said the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, and the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mads Andenas.
“Mr. Badawi is a prisoner of conscience, who has been convicted for peacefully expressing his views on religious and other issues,” they added.
The United Nations experts also urged the Government of Saudi Arabia to “embark on more comprehensive reforms to bring their judicial system in compliance with international standards.”
The human rights experts stressed that “Mr. Badawi was imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression” and recalled the right of all people to “freely manifest their views in matters of religion or belief and to write, issue and disseminate information and ideas in these areas through any media without interference.”
They expressed further concern that “the detention and charges brought against Mr. Badawi appear to be part of an ongoing practice of prosecution against people who publicly express dissenting religious views in Saudi Arabia.”
All absolutely accurate. But it would probably be more consistent if the United Nations didn’t appoint Saudi Arabia to a spot on the UN Human Rights Council along with several other countries that are equally barbaric in their treatment of religious minorities.