International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 49th Session (28 February – 1 April 2022)
Item 4: General Debate
Kacem El Ghazzali
Last Friday, I was relieved to hear of the release of my friend Raif Badawi, who spent the last decade of his life in a Saudi jail cell.
His crime: calling for freedom of expression and encouraging an open discussion of politics and religion in the country. His dream was and still is: A free and tolerant Saudi Arabia.
For this dream, Raif was for ten years deprived of his freedom and subjected to a painful and humiliating public flogging, which the United Nations described as “cruel and inhuman.”
However, Mr. President, even now Raif is not yet truly free.
Despite his release, he is still subject to a 10-year ban on travel. This means depriving him of embracing his wife and children, who live abroad.
Raif, like all Saudis, has no judicial means to challenge the travel ban, other than by a royal pardon.
We remind His Highness, the Crown Prince, that the Universal Declaration affirms the right of every individual to leave his or her country. And that Saudi Arabia, by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has committed to respecting the rights of the child by allowing a child’s parents to leave their country.
I address this Council today to call on its members to urge Saudi Arabia to lift Badawi’s travel ban. He has already paid a heavy price and it is time to stop his suffering.
'Call for Saudi Arabia to lift Raif Badawi's travel ban', Humanists International