Montreal, January 21, 2015 – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) condemns the public flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. Badawi was convicted in a Saudi court of insulting Islam via his website Free Saudi Liberals. His sentencing includes 10 years in jail and 1000 lashes, followed by a 10-year travel ban, a ban on the use of media, and a fine of 1,000,000 riyals. Badawi’s conviction and sentencing have resulted in widespread international condemnation because 1) Badawi’s supposed crimes are so subjective, and 2) the use of flogging violates international law’s prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.
CJPME, along with many other human rights advocates, strongly condemns the use of public flogging as a judicial punishment and urges Saudi Arabia to put a stop to Badawi’s sentencing immediately. According to CJPME President Thomas Woodley, “Despite having ratified the Convention Against Torture, Saudi Arabia seems resolute in its application of this cruel and degrading punishment. Not only is this a violation of international law, this is a clear instance of the Saudi government curtailing its people’s right to freedom of expression.”
While the Canadian government has condemned Saudi Arabia for its treatment of Raif Badawi, CJPME is urging that more be done. Badawi’s wife and children fled Saudi Arabia for Quebec in 2011, making this a particularly relevant issue for many Canadians. Meanwhile, the Harper government negotiated a record-breaking $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia last year, prompting many to question if Canada should reconsider its cozy relationship with the repeated human rights offender.
Badawi’s sentencing is due to be carried out over a period of 20 weeks, with Badawi receiving 50 lashes every week following Friday prayers. He received his first round of flogging on January 9, 2015 but his lashing was postponed by a week following the results of his medical check-up at the prison clinic where he is being held. According to Amnesty International, “The doctor concluded that the flogging should be postponed given that Raif Badawi’s wounds, sustained from the previous week’s flogging, had not yet healed sufficiently and that he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes.” International observers fear that his sentencing will be resumed this Friday, January 23, 2015.
About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.
For more information, please contact Patricia Jean, 438-380-5410.
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
The whole or parts of this press release can be reproduced without permission.