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11 March 2022

Lawyers Without Borders Canada and the Barreau du Québec (Quebec Bar Association) are pleased with the release of blogger and human rights defender Raïf Badawi, who has been unfairly imprisoned for the past 10 years in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Badawi, who has been admired around the world for bringing attention on the situation of women’s rights in his country, was convicted in 2012 after a trial that violated Saudi law and international law applicable in Saudi Arabia, as demonstrated in a brief prepared by Lawyers Without Borders in collaboration with the Barreau du Québec.


The news of Mr. Badawi’s release was announced earlier today by his wife Ms. Ensaf Haidar, who has led a courageous fight over the past ten years. Lawyers Without Borders Canada and the Barreau du Québec are relieved by this news.


However, Mr. Badawi unfortunately still had to serve the entire prison sentence and remains subject to additional penal measures. His sentence included a 10-year travel ban after his release and a fine of 1 million riyals (approximately $340,000 Canadian). The implementation of these penalties would force Mr. Badawi to continue living in a vulnerable and unjust situation. Lawyers Without Borders Canada is calling for these measures to be lifted.


In the previously mentioned brief, published in October 2015 and presented to the highest Saudi authorities, Lawyers Without Borders Canada, in collaboration with the Barreau du Québec, demonstrated that Mr. Badawi’s sentence violated his rights to a fair trial, to freedom of speech, as well as a violation of the absolute ban on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.


“The end of Mr. Badawi’s prison sentence is a renewed opportunity for Saudi Arabia to take concrete steps towards the respect of human rights by allowing Mr. Badawi to be reunited with his family.”


Pascal Paradis, Executive Director of Lawyers Without Borders Canada


Lawyers Without Borders and the Barreau du Québec also call on the Canadian government to use all possible tools to facilitate the reunification of Mr. Badawi with his family in Canada. In 2021, both the House of Commons and the Senate voted to urge the Minister of Immigration to use his discretionary power to grant Canadian citizenship to Raif Badawi. This has not yet happened. The Quebec government has already granted Mr. Badawi a selection certificate that would allow him to settle in Quebec, where his family has already settled.


Lawyers Without Borders Canada and the Barreau du stand in solidarity with Mr. Raif Badawi, Ms. Ensaf Haidar, , their children, their loved ones, and all those who continue to fight for the respect of human rights in Saudi Arabia, including Raif Badawi’s lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair, and his sister Samar Badawi, both of whom have been wrongfully imprisoned because of their fight for human rights.