Amnesty International censures KSA over controversial law
4 February, 2014 – Shia Post
Amnesty International has censured Saudi Arabia over a controversial counter-terrorism law, calling it the kingdom’s new tool to crush peaceful expression.
The UK-based rights body says the new Saudi law legalizes a range of ongoing human rights violations.
In a Monday statement, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa Said Boumedouha said, “This disturbing new law confirms our worst fears – that the Saudi Arabian authorities are seeking legal cover to entrench their ability to crack down on peaceful dissent and silence human rights defenders.”
This came after Saudi Arabia put into effect the controversial counter-terrorism law that allows Riyadh to prosecute as a terrorist anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or protests against the kingdom’s policies.
“Passing a law with so many serious flaws two years after identical issues with the earlier draft were pointed out does not bode well for the authorities’ plans to end long-standing violations in the name of counter-terrorism. The changes made to the law since 2011 have done little to diminish the potentially devastating impact on human rights. The legislation just seems to codify the Ministry of Interior’s repressive tactics, which Amnesty International has documented for years,” the statement added.
The law, passed by the council of ministers and ratified by King Abdullah in December last year, went into effect on Saturday.
The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, states that any action that “undermines” the state or society, including calls for change of government in Riyadh, can be tried as a terrorist act. The law also gives security forces and intelligence agencies sweeping powers to raid homes and track phone calls and Internet activity.
A large number of activists, clerics, judges and journalists have been jailed in Saudi Arabia for voicing their opposition to the kingdom’s policies.
Over the past 10 years, Saudi Arabia has also arrested thousands of people and accused them of being involved with al-Qaeda. …more