Human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler, who has represented Mr. Badawi internationally since 2014, says talks between representatives of the European Union (EU) and those of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have sparked the hope that the blogger will be released in the coming days.
However, he specifies that pressure must be exerted to allow Mr. Badawi to join his wife and children, who live in Quebec. Although his prison sentence has ended, Raif Badawi still faces a 10-year travel ban, a media ban and a punitive $335,000 fine that was handed down at the time of his arrest. conviction.
next years”,”text”:”We are talking about a kind of prison without walls where he is deprived of travel for the next 10 years”}}”>We are talking about a kind of prison without walls where he is deprived of travel for the next 10 years.said Me Cotler, who is also a former federal Minister of Justice and founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights.
It would be the equivalent of continuing the punishment outside of prison, with the same intense pain of being deprived of the presence of his wife and children.said Me Cotler.
Raif Badawi was imprisoned in 2012 and sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million Saudi riyals for criticizing the country’s religious authorities. He received 50 lashes in January 2015 in a public flogging, but has reportedly not been whipped since.
Mr Cotler said he did not fear further floggings for his client, as the Saudi Supreme Court banned the practice in 2020.
” I hope he will be released as scheduled according to the Islamic calendar on February 28. »
His wife, Ensaf Haidar, counted down the expected release date on her Twitter account. She and the couple’s three children have lived in Sherbrooke, Quebec since 2013.
The imprisonment of Raif Badawi has drawn strong international condemnation.
Many government organizations as well as advocacy groups have called for his release.
According to Cotler, the writings for which Mr. Badawi was imprisoned, which promote human rights and democracy, are in line with the reforms that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been advocating for five years, namely the call to a more open Saudi Arabia and a more moderate Islam.
” At this point, I would say it is in Saudi Arabia’s interest to allow his release and reunite him with his family. »
In other words, it’s not only the right thing to do, but in Saudi Arabian terms it would be in its own political, economic and national interest to do so.said Irwin Cotler.
Last year, the House of Commons and the Senate voted in favor of the immigration minister using his discretionary power to grant Canadian citizenship to Raif Badawi, but that has yet to happen.
Ottawa expresses concern
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a statement it could not comment specifically on Mr. Badawi’s case, due to privacy concerns.
The Government of Canada is very concerned about the case of Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, the ministry said in an email. We have always advocated for it and will continue to use every opportunity to do so. His well-being is at the heart of our concerns.
Me Cotler affirms that he had discussions with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Immigration about this file. He added that Canadian citizenship would allow the country to carry out diplomatic endeavors on Mr. Badawi’s behalf.
The French-Canadian section of Amnesty International said that according to the information it has, Mr. Badawi could be released between February 28 and March 3, or in June, depending on the timetable used to calculate his sentence.
Either way, they hope the release will come soon, given the release of other dissidents last year when their sentences expired, including Mr Badawi’s own sister.
The decision is ultimately up to the Saudi government, said campaign manager for the human rights organization Colette Lelièvre, adding that it is important to keep up the pressure until Mr Badawi is not released and reunited with his family.
Hare. Even if he is released, there are other conditions he will have to follow, and unfortunately he will not be sent to Canada”,”text”:”We are monitoring the situation day by day. If we see that he has not been released next week, we will be more visible on the issue, said Ms. Lelièvre. Even if he is released, there are other conditions he will have to follow, and unfortunately, he will not be sent to Canada”}}”>We are monitoring the situation day by day. If we see that he has not been released next week, we will be more visible on the issue, said Ms. Lelièvre. Even if he is released, there are other conditions he will have to follow, and unfortunately he will not be sent to Canada..