Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, the brave Saudi lawyer and human rights activist, has received the International Human Rights Lawyer Award from the American Bar Association (ABA). He said this award “values the work of a large group of activists in Saudi society who are defending human rights.”
Al-Lahem’s name has become associated with a series of high-profile cases in the country where he volunteered to defend people against the government and the official religious establishment. He has been a vocal critic to the judicial system and this has gained him many enemies among the conservatives.
He certainly deserves to be awarded, but here comes the sad part: he will not be able to receive the award in person during a conference held in Vienna in July unless a four-year-old travel ban imposed on him by the authorities here is lifted.
I think the ban has been imposed on him following his defense for the the three so-called “constitutional reformists” back in 2004. At the time, he was jailed for defending their right in a fair trial. He later was pardoned along with the reformists and a fifth activist shortly after King Abdullah ascended the throne.