By Andy Sambidge
Saudi ambassador to the UK says kingdom committed to fighting evil; report 'inaccurate'
Saudi Arabia has reacted strongly to claims by Amnesty International that its proposed draft anti-terror law was "draconian and abusive".
The kingdom said the report was based on "inaccurate information" and added that it was committed to human rights in accordance with Islamic sharia law.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom, said the country was "continuously targeted by terrorists" who seek financing and try to recruit Saudi youths.
"Our responsibility is to do whatever to fight this evil," he said in comments published by state news agency SPA.
He said the Amnesty report was based on "inaccurate information", adding that the anti-terror act was still under discussion by the legislative authorities.
He said the draft bill was subject to many changes and will not be approved unless it became certain that it complied with Islamic Sharia law.
Commenting on the detainees in the Eastern Region - another area of criticism in the Amnesty report - he said they had been detained for taking part in riot gatherings, threatening the safety and life of other citizens and security men.
Most of them have been released after having passed investigation sessions, he added.
On Thursday, Amnesty International described the state of freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia as dire.
Saudi Arabia has been spared the popular uprisings seen elsewhere in the region this year, but not without launching a new wave of repression in the name of security, the rights group said.
Amnesty said the draft anti-terror law, a copy of which was leaked to the group earlier this year, indicated peaceful acts of dissent could in future be prosecuted as a "terrorist crime".
"The formulation of a new anti-terror law is another apparent sign of the authorities' to use the law to silence dissent," said Amnesty, adding the law would allow the kingdom to detain security suspects indefinitely and without trial.
Amnesty also criticised the kingdom's "vague and broad" definitions of terrorism, ranging from "destabilising society" to "harming the reputation of the state".
Calling on Saudi authorities to immediately release all prisoners of conscience, Amnesty denounced as "extremely weak" the kingdom's institutional framework for protection of human rights.