Saudi Arabia’s new law would make political dissent a crime

The Saudi authorities have drafted new anti-terrorism legislation that makes political dissent a criminal offence and would enable the government to jail anyone who questioned the integrity of the King or Crown Prince for a minimum of 10 years.

A draft copy smuggled from the kingdom and obtained by Amnesty International shows that the definition of “terrorist crimes” under the proposed new law is so broad as to enable the authorities to detain anybody for as long as they want on such wide-ranging charges as “endangering… national unity” or “harming the reputation of the state or its position”…

The Saudi authorities were particularly worried that the open protests of the Shia majority in Bahrain would spread to the Shia population in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

In addition, they have always been suspicious, to the point of paranoia, of an Iranian-orchestrated Shia conspiracy to overthrow the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf.

Amnesty International obtained copies of of the Draft Penal Law for Terrorism for Terrorism Crimes and Financing of Terrorism, which is still to be passed, and is currently being examined by a Saudi government security committee…

“This draft law poses a serious threat to freedom of expression in the kingdom in the name of preventing terrorism,” says Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director Philip Luther. The proposed law also gives the authorities the power to arbitrarily detain somebody for up to a year or longer, and there is no right of appeal or access to a lawyer. Torture is not outlawed. The death penalty is to be applied to anybody taking up arms against the state…

>> Read More: Independent

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