Letter Regarding Saudi Academics at Risk of Death Penalty

On 2 February, the BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom wrote to the Rt Hon James Cleverly to request that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office urges Saudi authorities to ensure that the death penalty against academics Awad Al-Qarni, Salman Alodah and Hassan Farhan al-Maliki is dropped and that they are immediately released from prison.

The cases detailed in the letter, all shocking instances in their own right, form part of a pattern of repression and criminalisation of dissent by the Saudi government, and in which academics and scholars have faced harsh punishments, including the death penalty, for expressing their views. This repression has noticeably increased since Mohammed bin Salman became Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in 2017. Given that the United Kingdom has longstanding, friendly diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and continues to provide arms and military technology to the Saudi government, the United Kingdom is in a position to exert pressure upon the Saudi government to halt its repression of scholars and academics and its wider draconian restrictions on freedom of expression.

We are deeply alarmed that the above individuals are under threat of death for peacefully expressing their opinions, contrary to all international human rights treaties, including those signed by Saudi Arabia, such as, the Arab Charter on Human Rights.