Saudi Arab

HR activists rap proposed Saudi law

jos_news_bahrain_saudi_human_rightsSaudi and international human rights activists have criticized a proposed Saudi “counterterrorism” law that would mandate long jail sentences for criticizing the Arab country’s monarch.

The human rights activists say that the proposed law, which would give Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry extensive powers, would allow  prisoners to be held either without trials or with trials and appeals that are held secretly, the New York Times reported.

The activists have explained that the law was first proposed in 2003, but was put on hold, and has now been revived due to the sweeping anti-regime rallies across the region.

The law would also allow the Saudi interior ministry to tap phones or conduct house searches without permission from the judiciary.

The definitions of terrorism-related crimes in the proposed law have also been described as vague.

“Ninety-nine percent of the law has nothing to do with terrorism, it has to do with political dissent,” said defense lawyer Bassem Alim.

“Every single thing we criticized them about in the past is going to be legitimate,” he added.

Princess Basma Bint Saud, a niece of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and a social activist and prominent supporter of women’s issues in the kingdom, had earlier called on the Saudi rulers to be more open to changes, stressing that no Arab country is immune to the sweeping wave of popular movements.

“No one is immune from the seasonal geographical winds of change that are sweeping our Arab homeland. Those who say we are immune are wrong,” she said.

Several right groups and international bodies including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have frequently condemned the Saudi regime for their widespread violation of human rights.

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