Raif Badawi case should be foreign affairs' priority: Lawyers Without Borders

Lawyers Without Borders Canada is counting the new Liberal government to make the case of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi a foreign affairs' priority.

Legal rights group teams up with Saudi blogger's wife Ensaf Haidar to urge Justin Trudeau to intervene

Pascal Paradis, the executive director of Lawyers Without Borders Canada, is calling on the new Trudeau government to make the Raif Badawi case a foreign affairs priority. (CBC/Sudha Krishnan)

Lawyers Without Borders Canada is hoping the new Liberal government in Ottawa will make the Raif Badawi case a priority.

On the eve of the government's swearing-in, the advocacy group's executive director, Pascal Paradis, held a joint news conference in Montreal with the imprisoned Saudi blogger's wife, Ensaf Haidar.

"Raif Badawi's case is important," Paradis said. "It should rank among the priorities of the new foreign affairs minister, starting Thursday."

"Mr. Trudeau himself has been on Twitter, saying that Canada will stand alongside Raif Badawi."

Badawi's own lawyer jailed

Badawi is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of criticizing Islam and promoting liberal thought via his website.

He was also sentenced to receive 1,000 lashes to be delivered in batches of 50.

However, after the first lashing he was so badly injured that his subsequent weekly sessions were suspended for several months.

Lawyers Without Borders Canada argues Badawi's treatment in Saudi Arabia violates the blogger's rights and violates both Saudi law and international law.
Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar, along with their three children, have political asylum in Canada and are living in Sherbrooke, Que. (CBC/Sudha Krishnan)

The group has made a list of arguments to present to the next foreign affairs minister to help Canada make its case.

High on that list: Badawi has been without a lawyer to represent him, ever since his own lawyer was also jailed.

Badawi's wife, meanwhile, said the past few years have been an ordeal, although she has good days and bad days.

"I hope Mr. Trudeau can go to Saudi Arabia and bring back Raif," Haidar said.

In September, Haidar – a refugee who lives in Sherbrooke, Que. with her and Badawi's children – created the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom with the help of Quebec legal clinic Juripop.