Internacional de Derechos Humanos
Ludovic Trarieux 2015
Premio Internazionale per i Diritti Umani Ludovic Trarieux 2015
Internationalen Ludovic-Trarieux-Menschenrechtspreis 2015
Prêmio Internacional de Direitos Humanos Ludovic Trarieux 2015
Internationale Mensenrechtenprijs 2015
“L’hommage des avocats à un avocat ”
“The award given by lawyers to a lawyer”
“El homenaje de abogados
a un abogado ”
“L'omaggio degli avvocati ad un avvocato”
“Die Hommage von Anwälten zu einem Anwalt”
« De award gegeven door advocaten
een advocaat »
November 27 th 2015
President of Geneva Bar Association, Jean-Marc CARNICÉ, presenting the award to Dan Arschack, an attorney member of the New York and London Bar Associations, present on behalf of Waleed Abu al-Khair, currently jailed in Saudi Arabia.
President of the Jury
des barreaux européens
DISCOURS DE ME FRANCOIS
AU NOM DU BARREAU DE
Monsieur le Procureur Général,
Monsieur le Bâtonnier de l’Ordre des Avocats de Genève,
Monsieur le Président,
Mesdames, Messieurs les bâtonniers,
J'ai l'infime honneur de prendre la parole en délégation du bâtonnier du
conseil de l'ordre des avocats de Luxembourg, Me Rosario Grasso.
Comme dans beaucoup de capitales européennes, c'est en robe que, nous les
avocats, avons participé à la cérémonie d'hommage rendue aux victimes des
terribles attentats commis à Paris et à St-Denis le 13 novembre dernier.
Devant l'ambassade de France à Luxembourg-ville, en présence du Grand-duc
Henri et de la grande-duchesse, ainsi que du premier ministre, nous nous sommes
rassemblés pour dire non à la violence aveugle et protester contre les
atteintes intolérables aux droits les plus chers qui doivent gouverner nos
sociétés : la vie bien sûr, mais aussi la liberté.
Comment en effet, alors que les plaies sont encore ouvertes et
purulentes, ne pas faire référence à ces actes de barbarie en cette occasion ?
Leurs auteurs – qualifiés par un journaliste d’adeptes d’Ibn Taymiyya, du nom du père de tous les fondamentalistes
sunnites - ont-ils même lu un seul
versant du livre sacré au nom duquel ils commettent les massacres les plus
Oui en ces moments de deuil, en ces instants d'affront contre la
jeunesse, contre la liberté de circulation et contre le vivre-ensemble, nous
prions pour Paris (‘Pray for Paris’), prière
authentique, tout comme nous étions Charlie lorsqu'en janvier de cette année,
ce même genre de fanatiques s'en prenaient
à des journalistes et à des clients d'une épicerie casher de la manière
la plus sanglante qui soit.
Sans oublier non plus ni Bamako, ni Tunis, villes qui elles aussi ont
connu la douleur de voir le sang couler ces derniers jours.
La remise du prix d'aujourd'hui se fait
dans ce contexte, comme une piqûre de rappel si nécessaire, si évidente
et pourtant si fondamentale de la fragilité de nos institutions, mais toujours
et encore dans le cadre indispensable de l'État de droit.
Dans ce contexte, le barreau de Luxembourg ne saurait avoir une analyse
autre que celle qui ressort d’un communiqué récent du Syndicat des Avocats de
France : l’Etat de droit, est un équilibre fragile entre respect des droits
fondamentaux et sauvegarde de l’ordre public, équilibre protégé et contrôlé par
des garanties juridictionnelles. Aussi, tous les services de sécurité doivent
pouvoir assurer leurs missions de lutte contre le terrorisme, mais ce dans le
respect des libertés fondamentales.
Oui, la liberté n'a pas de prix, Elle est sous attaque de tous côtés. Par
la remise du prix au lauréat de cette
année, Monsieur Walid Abu Al-Khair, nous réaffirmons
solennellement que la liberté comporte celle de pouvoir s’exprimer librement,
que tout régime est tenu du respect de cette liberté, sans laquelle point de
société ne saurait envisager un avenir serein.
Alors, avec le célèbre poète français Paul Éluard, écrivons le mot
liberté sur tous les supports, que ce soit :
Sur les pages lues
Sur toutes les pages
Pierre sang papier ou
Sur l'absence sans désir
Sur la solitude nue
Sur les marches de la
Alors toujours, avec le poète, je dis :
Et par le pouvoir
Je recommence ma vie
Je suis né pour te
Pour te nommer
L’auteur de ce poème magnifique paru en 1942, et que je ne saurais citer
en entier, mes chers Confrères, reconnu comme étant l'un des grands poètes de
la Résistance, est né en 1895…à St-Denis, en région parisienne!
Au nom du barreau de Luxembourg, je souhaite que Monsieur Walid Abu Al-Khair retrouve la liberté, qu'il jouisse à nouveau rapidement des libertés.
Speech delivered on Waleed Abu Al-Khair's
Waleed Abu Al-Khair
on November 27, 2015
at the Ludovic-Trarieux Human Rights Award
ceremony in Geneva.
“I am in Geneva accepting, on behalf of my client, the
most prestigious human rights award in Europe, the Ludovic-Trarieux
Human Rights Award, which was first bestowed on Nelson Mandela.
I am honored to have been asked by Waleed Abu Al-Khair to be his attorney and to accept this award on his
We are here today to give Waleed an award that
recognizes "those who defend the supremacy of law."
Sometimes mounting this defense means protesting and
even defying laws which are fundamentally unjust. As Nelson Mandela, the first
recipient of this award, said, "When a man is denied the right to live the
life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw." If Waleed
has become an outlaw he just as certainly has remained a patriot. He continues
to express a deep love for his country and its promise, despite being separated
from his wife and daughter and imprisoned by a tyrannical regime that wields
its limitless power as a sword against the best and brightest of its citizens.
Although the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly
pledged to comply with various human rights conventions, it nonetheless
repeatedly has trampled the basic human rights of Waleed and others who are now
languishing in Saudi prisons with crippling sentences of 15, 20 and 30 years.
Our moral imperative is to stand and bear witness against this egregious
violation of Waleed's rights -- and the rights of all Saudi Arabians. This
award is a symbol of our witness.
When Waleed was imprisoned, his wife, Samar Badawi, a brave human rights activist in her own right,
published an open letter to her country. She said:
In Saudi Arabia, those who chose to rule in the name
of Islam and Shari'a law have treated the law as mere
ink on paper. Those who claim to use religion to protect me are the very people
who took away my safety and security, for within the kingdom,
those meant to be serving justice have decided that oppression should be a
cause for celebration. To my fellow Saudi Arabians I say that my husband has
been imprisoned so that you could live free. He stood up to the tyrants to
claim your rights; he faced up to his oppressors telling them he would not
tolerate their repression. Remember that history does not forget, it will exalt those who have fought for freedom and cast
aside the memory of those who succumbed to a life of humiliation and servitude.
And, in a 2014 interview, Waleed told reporters,
"I might get worried only about my wife and my family but in all that has
happened and will happen to me, I am able to enjoy my life because I feel I am
practicing that which makes me happy, which is my freedom."
What freedom was Waleed talking about? What does it
mean to practice freedom?
Perhaps it means that even in the face of
oppression, there can still be joy in resistance. The power to resist springs
from hope and faith in the ultimate victory of justice. It is a wonderful
reflection of the indomitable human spirit's desire for freedom that Waleed --
and the many human rights activists imprisoned with him -- continue to find
grace and happiness in the practice of freedom and the promise of justice.
"We must demand that our media outlets continue
to broadcast the heinous behavior of oppressive governments. And be assured
that those governments care about their reputation on the world stage."
So we gather here to honor Waleed while he continues
to practice his freedom from behind the bars of a barbaric Saudi regime that
hacks off the limbs of its citizens, flogs them in public squares, and condones
the stoning of women. He never wavers in his commitment to speaking truth to
Men and women, like Waleed, who live their lives
committed to assuring that laws of justice apply to all people know that
justice will not fail. Though they may be brutalized by rich men who rule from
thrones of power with armies at their disposal they know that these tyrants
will not endure because as Martin Luther King, sagely observed, "The arc
of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
Waleed Defends Human Rights
The Saudi government arrested Waleed as he stood in
court and convicted him for being a fearless advocate for his clients, many of
whom were accused of the same behavior that ultimately resulted in his
imprisonment. He stood beside his clients as a true defender of their human
rights and demanded that the Saudi Courts recognize the truth and apply the law
When his clients met to discuss the human rights of
Saudi citizens and the Monarchy charged them with illegal assembly, Waleed
defended them. And when Saudi Courts failed to act as independent institutions and
instead caved to the Monarchy's demands for retribution, Waleed stood tall and
fearlessly spoke the truth both publically and in the courts.
He is proud to have founded an NGO with a website
known as the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. He holds his head high
and is unrepentant for having advocated for the rights of his wife, Samar Badawi, a brave woman who dared to drive a car
unchaperoned, dared to challenge a legal system that placed her under the
guardianship of an abusive father, and dared to take legal action to advance
Waleed has earned his place in prison by defending
the courageous positions of human rights activists throughout Saudi Arabia
including his wife's brother, the blogger Raif Badawi, who, in January of this year, was sentenced to
1,000 lashes and ten years in prison... a brutal sentence which justifiably
continues to draw scathing criticism from around the world.
The Monarchy in Saudi Arabia is threatened by
peaceful citizens who represent their clients in court, and who drink tea in
cafés where they converse about building a better, progressive Saudi Arabia.
When the Monarchy declared these cafe conversations illegal, Waleed was
undeterred and, at great personal risk, he continued to speak publically and
advocate for the creation of a Saudi Arabia where citizens can openly
participate in politics, and can openly express their thoughts and practice
When the Monarchy closed the cafés, Waleed organized
salons in his living room to discuss the ideas of democracy and human dignity.
Tellingly, he called these salons "Smood",
the Arabic word for "steadfastness."
And indeed, Waleed is steadfast. He, like most of
the world's Muslims, is observant and peace loving and, as the Qur'an
instructs, he is "steadfast" in his dedication to God, to human
rights and to free and peaceful discourse. In the Qur'an, it is written,
"You who believe, be steadfast in your devotion to God and bear witness
impartially: do not let hatred of others lead you away from justice, but adhere
to justice, for that is closer to awareness of God. Be mindful of God: God is
well aware of all that you do" (5:8). And, God is surely aware of all
Waleed has done and, just as surely, is aware of what is being done to Waleed.
The power of the King and his family is not derived
from divine right but rather from wealth derived from oil pumped from the
ground. They are powerful but small minded men frightened of the call for
equality, frightened of the call for human rights, frightened of those who
question their complete authority.
These frightened men seek to control peaceful
inquiry and dissent within Saudi Arabia and then try to cloak their
indefensible behavior as a directive from God; but we know that they are driven
not by their piety but rather by their fear of losing absolute authority. Their
pursuit of power and wealth is at the expense of peace-loving forward- thinking
citizens and is a perversion of the teachings of all the world's religions.
These rich and powerful men are simply serving their
own interests when they claim they alone are entitled to determine the will of
God. All people, not just the powerful, struggle to understand the will of God
and all people are entitled to express those efforts openly in both public and
Waleed and the people he invited into his home
gathered only to talk about religion, the word of God and politics. They
exercised their right to examine these most essential questions. No ruler but a
frightened, cruel, paranoid, and vindictive one tramples on the right of its
own citizens to peaceful public and private discourse. The governments of the
world, including most especially my own, the United States, purport to value
human rights, but they are complicit in facilitating the tyrannical behavior of
the Saudi government when, as the price of doing business, they silently stand
by and fail to actively demand an end to these clear human rights abuses.
President Obama stood next to President Hollande in
the White House this week following the tragedy in Paris and called on the
nations of the world to abide by what he called their "highest
ideals" in protecting human rights during these difficult times. But those
same nations must know that the blood falling from the lashing of Raif Badawi is on the hands of each
and every government which, by tolerating these barbarous acts, permits them to
The Monarchy Protects Only Itself
Make no mistake: Waleed's continued imprisonment is
no more than simple unadorned political persecution designed to further consolidate
the position of a single powerful family's already entrenched stranglehold on
Remember that Waleed was tried twice for the same
crime, first in a normal criminal court and again in a so-called
"anti-terrorism tribunal". After the first trial, he was sentenced to
three months' imprisonment. Unsatisfied with this result, the Monarchy forced
him to trial again and the predetermined verdict, under new laws that did not
even exist when he engaged in the behavior on which his arrest was based,
resulted in a sentence of fifteen years, which was without reason or justice.
It is clear whose interests are served by this kind
of persecution. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is no safer and Islam is no
stronger with Waleed behind bars. Nor is Saudi Arabia more secure since his
wife was forced to sign an agreement precluding her from speaking about human
rights in Saudi Arabia and banned from travelling. Nor is the future of the
country brighter when Saudi children, like Waleed and Samar's young daughter, Jaud, cannot look forward to a future free from oppression.
Change Will Come
Like many heroes of civil rights movements around
the world, Waleed and his family have borne the anger of a barbaric government.
But, it is not violent Jihadists who pose the greatest
threat to Saudi Arabia. And it is certainly not those, like Waleed who dream of
a free and peaceful Saudi Arabia. Rather, the greatest threat to Saudi Arabia
is the Monarchy's own ongoing assault on basic human rights.
History shows that despotic dictatorships like Saudi
Arabia cannot sustain themselves in a world that is connected and vigilant.
Eventually, the dictators will be forced to concede what most of the civilized
world has accepted for generations: that open discourse, the peaceful expression
of free thought, and the right to peacefully assemble are the necessary pillars
of a legitimate and civilized government.
The efforts of tyrannical political systems to
maintain control by imposing their own ill-conceived definitions of moral and
religious righteousness always result in failure. Nelson Mandela triumphed
against such an unjust system. Vaclav Havel and the other signatories of
Charter 77 faced persecution for their embrace of human rights; history
vindicated them as it will vindicate Waleed. Their struggles left an indelible
impression on their homelands; and in time, they came to be known as the
creators of societies which hold paramount the protection of human rights.
Those despots who oppressed them and sought to
maintain their tyrannical status quo are cast aside by history and remembered
only as the monsters that we know them to be. Waleed and his fellow Saudi
supporters will one day be seen as the new face of Saudi Arabia -- but for that
to occur, it falls on us, the international community, to support him as well.
This prize is a real step in that direction.
What Is to Be Done? What can we do in the face of
such clear injustice? For one thing, we must not allow our own governments --
indeed, the majority of the international community -- to continue to turn a
blind eye to the Saudi government's flagrant violations of human rights.
Unbelievably, Saudi Arabia recently gained a place on the United Nations Human
Rights Council, in a voting pact with the UK. No country that prides itself on
its commitment to fostering values of freedom, democracy, and
self-determination has any business allowing despots to masquerade as guardians
of human rights.
Indeed, just this past week, the United Nations
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a damning report denouncing Saudi
Arabia for the illegal detention of Waleed and eight other human rights
activists including Waleed's client Raif Badawi. The report correctly characterized their detention
as "a reprisal for their work of protecting and defending human
rights" and called on Saudi Arabia to take "steps to immediately
release the detainees and provide reparations" for their illegal
We should follow the example set by countries that
not only denounce but actually take concrete steps to oppose Saudi Arabia's
disregard for human rights. Sweden has led the way in standing up to the
bullies in Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Margot Wallström
brought attention to the cruelty and inhumanity of Raif
Badawi's flogging, saying, "If we don't defend
democracy and human rights, what are we?" Her government then moved beyond
mere words of disapproval and ended Sweden's decades-long, multimillion-dollar
arms agreement with Saudi Arabia. That is a model of diplomacy.
The Swedes should be proud of their government. They
stand by their moral convictions, even in the face of economic hardship. We
must follow our guiding principles and demand that our governments follow
Sweden's lead by shunning appeasement and opportunism and embracing integrity.
When you leave here today, reach out to your governments and demand that they
condemn Saudi Arabia's behavior.
We each must watch and respond to Saudi Arabia's
attack on peaceful dissent. Moreover, we must shine a light on the behavior of
all oppressive tyrannical governments like Saudi Arabia. The technology of the
cellphone camera and YouTube are central to preserving, for all to see, the
evil wrought by bullies and human rights violators. Never again can these
oppressors deny or hide their inhumane behavior.
Beatrice Mtetwa, 2009
winner of this prize, who was beaten by police in Zimbabwe for her steadfast
defense of journalists, has taught us that the very act of bearing witness is
essential if we are to end the impunity of tyrants.
We must demand that our media outlets continue to
broadcast the heinous behavior of oppressive governments. And be assured that
those governments care about their reputation on the world stage. When we stop
seeing the images of oppression, we stop responding and if that happens, those
tyrants will have no reason to change their behavior.
While the media is saturated with horrible images of
Jihadi violence, the corrosive effect of the denial of basic of human rights by
established governments, like Saudi Arabia, is in many ways far more dangerous.
Our media must focus on this less dramatic but more destructive
Waleed Demonstrates the Moral Imperative
Waleed looks the despots in the eye and refuses to
cease fighting. He follows in the footsteps of Winston Churchill who refused to
yield to the Nazis and instructed:
Never give in. Never give in. Never,
never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give
in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.
Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the
The freedoms that many of us take for granted --
freedom of assembly, of speech, and of religion -- do not exist in Saudi
Arabia. In an atmosphere of repression and intolerance, Waleed stood in court
and advocated for his clients, he opened his home to the free exchange of
ideas, and he wrote about the need for peaceful free expression in his country.
He was met with harsh punishment. In his prison cell -- the most unforgiving
and unfree of environments -- he has continued to practice freedom. He
continues to dissent, and to hope, and to struggle.
As Mandela reminds us, "to be free is not
merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and
enhances the freedom of others." We have gathered to honor Waleed's
practice of freedom; the best way to demonstrate our honor is to pledge an
active commitment to expanding human rights and dignity across the world. We
must deny the legitimacy of any government that seeks to deny the human rights
of its citizens.
Waleed can see the day when his countrymen will
finally live in a free and open Saudi Arabia. Through the bars of his prison
cell he can see that glorious day because he knows that justice will always
On Waleed's behalf, I thank you.”
“The tribute given by lawyers to a lawyer”
Created in 1984, the "International Human Rights
Prize Ludovic -Trarieux” is
awarded to " a lawyer, regardless of nationality or Bar, who thoroughout his career has illustrated, by his activity or
his suffering, the defence of human rights, the
promotion of defence rights, the supremacy of law,
and the struggle against racism and intolerance in any form ".
It is the oldest and most prestigious award given to a
lawyer in the world, commemorating the memory of the French lawyer, Ludovic Trarieux (1840-1904), who
in the midst of the Dreyfus Affair, in France, in 1898, founded the "
League for the Defence of Human Rights and the Citizen
", because, he said: " It was not only the single cause of a man
which was to be defended, but behind this cause, law, justice, humanity ".
The first Prize was awarded on March 29th, 1985 to
Nelson Mandela then in jail. It was officially presented to his daughter, Zenani Mandela Dlamini, on April
27th 1985, in front of forty presidents of Bars and Law Societies from Europe
and Africa. It was the first award given to Mandela in France and the first
around the world given by lawyers. On February 11th 1990, Nelson Mandela was
released. Since then, it was decided that the Prize would be awarded again.
Since 2003, the Prize is awarded every year in
partnership by the Human Rights Institute of The Bar of Bordeaux, the Human Rights
Institute of the Bar of Paris, the Human Rights Institute of The Bar of
Brussels, l'Unione forense
per la tutela dei diritti dell'uomo (Roma), Rechtsanwaltskammer Berlin, the Bar of Luxemburg, the Bar
of Geneva, the Bar of Amsterdam as well as the Union Internationale
des Avocats (UIA), and the European Bar Human Rights
Institute (IDHAE) whose members are the biggest european
law societies fighting for human rights. It is presented every year in a city
that is home to one of the member Institutes.
1985: Nelson MANDELA (South Africa)
1992: Augusto ZÚÑIGA PAZ (Peru) †
1994: Jadranka CIGELJ
1996 Nejib HOSNI (Tunisia)
and Dalila MEZIANE (Algeria).
1998 ZHOU Guoqiang (China)
2000 Esber YAGMURDERELI
2002 Mehrangiz KAR (Iran)
2003 Digna OCHOA and Bárbara ZAMORA
2004: Akhtam NAISSE (Syria)
BURIN DES ROZIERS (Brazil)
2006: Parvez IMROZ (India)
2007 : René
GÓMEZ MANZANO (Cuba)
2008 : U AYE MYINT (Burma)
2009 : Beatrice MTETWA (Zimbabwe)
2010 : Karinna MOSKALENKO (Russia)
2011 : Fethi TERBIL (Libya)
2012 : Muharrem ERBEY (Turkey)
2013 : Vadim KURAMSHIN (Kazakhstan)
2014 : Mahienour el-MASSRY (Egypt)
2015 : Waleed Abu al-KHAIR (Saudi Arabia)