For immediate release
COTLER URGES GOVERNMENT TO CALL FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF RAIF BADAWI
Liberal MP criticizes government’s appeal for clemency as “insufficient”, presents petition calling for release
Ottawa – February 20, 2015 – MP Irwin Cotler, Liberal Party critic for rights and freedoms and international justice, today renewed his call for the Canadian government to take a more active role in securing the immediate and unconditional release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife and children have taken refuge in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
In Question Period, Cotler – who is acting as international legal counsel to Badawi – asked the government to “explicitly call for the immediate and unconditional release” of the blogger and his lawyer, Waleed Abhulkair. He criticized the government’s past calls for “clemency” as insufficient, saying appeals for clemency fall short of a demand for “the immediate and unconditional release of Raif Badawi and that of his lawyer” and for the reunification of Badawi with his wife and children in Quebec.
In response, however, David Anderson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, merely reiterated that the government “would continue to call for clemency in this case.”
After Question Period, Cotler presented a petition signed by residents of Sherbrooke, who are asking the government “to immediately use all diplomatic means necessary to ensure that Raif Badawi is freed and reunited with his family”.
Detained by Saudi Arabia since 2012, Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for establishing an online forum and exercising his right to free expression. Saudi Arabia administered the first 50 lashes on January 9, but has postponed subsequent lashings.
Contact: Michael Milech
Office of Hon. Irwin Cotler