ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law


Saudi human rights lawyer and pro-democracy activist Waleed Abu Al-Khair was convicted for “inciting public opinion” and “harming the reputation of the King.” As a result, he is currently serving a fifteen-year prison sentence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This Article analyzes Abu Al-Khair’s criminal conviction under international law, with a focus on the universal standard for the protection of freedom of expression. Specifically, this article explores international law rules that call for narrow constructions of the offenses of “incitement” and “defamation” under domestic law when dealing with public figures and public affairs. Portions of this paper have been reproduced with updates from a prior 2016 Human Rights Foundation Report, written by the same authors of this article. This Article is intended to replace the 2016 Report previously published