Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Saudi authorities to â€œimmediately haltâ€ a 1.5-year prosecution of a human rights lawyer, who has criticized the kingdomâ€™s judiciary system.
The rights group said on Saturday that Walid Abu al-Khair, who is facing trial on the charges of â€œoffending the judiciaryâ€ and â€œattempting to distort the reputation of the kingdom,â€ will appear before Jeddahâ€™s Criminal Court on April 21.
The HRW, however, said that the charges against Abu al-Khair â€œare based solely on the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.â€
â€œIf Saudi authorities are truly concerned with the reputation of their judiciary, they should stop prosecuting lawyers who criticize the legal systemâ€™s failings,â€ said HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson.
The trial of the Abu-Alkhair began in September 2011 after he criticized a judge’s ruling to jail his client for seven months without trial.
He has also been the coordinator of a team of lawyers for ten prominent human rights defenders. The activists were handed down 30 years of imprisonment in 2011.