Qatar highest court upholds 15-year prison sentence for famous poet

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Cécile Pouilly 

The UN Human Rights Office has expressed "serious concern" about the decision taken by Qatar's Court of Cassation on 20 October to uphold a 15-year prison sentence for a well-known poet.

Mohammed al Ajami, also known as Ibn al Dheeb, was initially sentenced to life in prison last year for "encouraging the overthrow of the ruling system of the country and insulting the nation's symbols" through his poems.

His sentence was reduced to 15 years last February during a second appeal.

Cécile Pouilly, Spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said the sentence was clearly disproportionate.

"After Sunday's verdict from the Court of Cassation, Mr. al Ajami's only recourse was to appeal for clemency to the Emir of Qatar. Last January, in this press court, we have already expressed our concerns about the harsh sentencing, the fairness of his trial and about the many months Mr. al Ajami had spent in solitary confinement."

The UN Human Rights office has called for the respect of Mr. al Ajami's right to freedom of expression and for his immediate release.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’12″

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