The Saudi Judicial System Sentenced the Photographer AlSafer to 7 Years in Prison, Based on his Participation in Media.
European Saudi Society for Human Rights
A recent series of prosecutions has been taken place in Saudi courts against human rights activists and journalists. The Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), temporarily relocated to Jeddah city for the summer, sentenced Jassim Makki AlSafer (28 years old) to 7 years in prison and another 7 years travel ban. AlSafer was arrested from his work and had been detained in the General Investigation Directorate's prison in Dammam since 09/05/2013, where his phone other belongings were confiscated.
This rule was issued in the fifth session that held on 06/18/2014 after a number of sessions that lasted for more than six months, started since 11/26/2013. AlSafer, along with ten other defendants, were arbitrarily considered partners in a “terrorist cell” and accused of several charges in which some are unrelated to each other.
At his first trial session, the prosecutor accused AlSafer with multiple charges, including: demonstrating and chanting antigovernment - posting pictures of prisoners in public places – meeting a foreign journalist - sending pictures and video clips of the demonstrations to TV channels and broadcasting online in social networks. The prosecutor demanded a harsh punishment, confiscated his mobile p, which known to have a bad the reputation and often used against human rights activists; journalists; and demonstrators. Based on this law, a person could be lawfully convicted and prosecuted if possessed any form of “anti-government” materials, whether it is a text message; video clip; an email; in the computer or in social networking accounts. Applying such a law would dramatically violate freedom of expression and freedom overall.
The judge Abdullah AlRashoud did not take into consideration AlSafer torture in prison, as detained in solitary confinement; brutally beaten; sleep deprivation; insulted his family and his religious beliefs. AlSafer asked for his medical reports, which conducted in the General Investigation Directorate's prison hospital and the video of the investigations. He also demanded to bring the detective who forced him to sign the acknowledgment and oversaw the torture. And to bring two witnesses who saw the traces of torture on his body, as his injury in the cornea of his right eye, which forced AlSafer to wear a prescription glasses.
The judge did not pay enough attention to AlSafer requests, which subsequently detract the fairness of the trial. The court committee refused to bring the detective to court and the witnesses. In addition, a medical report was issued to the court and dated three years ago, where AlSaferhas only been in detention for two years, and this report denied subject to any form of torture. Such a decision by the court committee imposed impunity and other unlawful act during the prosecution.
We believe in the European Saudi Society for Human Rights (ESSHR) that AlSafer case is related to his right of freedom of expression and media work, thus, Saudi Arabia does not comply with local laws and international treaties. Therefore, the ruling against him since the arrest and all the way to prosecution violates all these laws.
We in the ESSHR demand the Saudi Ministry of Interior, which responsible for prisoners of conscience’s issues, the following:
- Drop the charges against the photographer Jassim AlSafer, which related to his media work and freedom of expression.
- Released him unconditionally.
- Prosecute responsible officials involved in torture to a fair trial, in accordance with (Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment).
And we would like to recall what Saudi officials stated in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on 10/10/2013 in paragraph (27) “The Kingdom’s laws guarantee freedom of expression and of opinion to every human being and protection for other rights, human rights being interdependent and interrelated, in such a way as to have no adverse impact on giving effect to this right. Hence, they adopt the principle of formally restricting freedom of expression in conformity with the relevant international standards ”. We also emphasize that the charges against AlSafer and other prisoners of conscience clearly violates this statement and other international treaties and conventions that Saudi has officially joined.
We also highlight that the Saudi government violates (The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) in which Saudi acceded in September 1997 .
 The Saudi Anti-Cyber Crime Law (8 Rabi 11428 / 26 March 2007), Article 6 “Any person who commits one of the following cyber-crimes shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years and a fine not exceeding three million riyals or to either punishment:
1. Production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers”
United Nations, Universal Periodic Review (UPR): Saudi Arabia Oct 2013 http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G13/160/88/PDF/G1316088.pdf?OpenElement
United Nations: Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment