By Staff writer
Rights group warns draft terrorism law may be used to quash dissent, jail activists
Rights group Amnesty International said its website had been
blocked by authorities in Saudi Arabia after the group spoke out against a draft
anti-terror law in the kingdom.
Amnesty last week accused Saudi Arabia of using the law as a
cover to stifle dissent and prevent pro-democracy protests, such as those that
have topped rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.
to Amnesty International's website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia... [after] criticism
of a draft anti-terror law that would stifle peaceful protest in the kingdom,” the
The Draft Penal Law for Terrorism Crimes and Financing
Terrorism would impose a minimum 10-year jail sentence on anyone questioning
the integrity of Saudi’s king or crown prince.
It would consider "endangering...national unity"
and "harming the reputation of the state or its position" as
terrorist crimes and allow suspects to be held incommunicado for an indefinite
period, if approved by a special court.
“Instead of attacking those raising concerns and attempting
to block debate, the Saudi Arabian government should amend the draft law to
ensure that it does not muzzle dissent and deny basic rights,” said Malcolm
Smart, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain last week denied
charges by Amnesty International that a planned anti-terrorism law would be
misused to quash opposition to the government.
"Amnesty International's reference that this planned
law will be used against what it describes as opposition rather than terrorists
is wrong," said Nawaf bin Abdulaziz in a statement carried on the official
SPA news agency.
Saudi Arabia boasts of its success in thwarting attacks by
al Qaeda, which launched a violent campaign in the kingdom in 2003 that fizzled
out in 2006. But Riyadh fears al Qaeda militants could use their base in Yemen
to restart operations.
The government also fears that Shi'ite Iran could stir up
dissent among minority Shi'ites to destabilise the kingdom, home to Islam's
"There have been many terrorist actions before... which
resulted in the death of dozens of people and the spread of terror," the
ambassador's statement said.
Activists say thousands of people are held in Saudi prisons
without charge or access to lawyers, despite a law that limits detention
without trial to six months.
The draft law would largely formalise such practices.
They block the website hence proving that they are going to misuse the law against innocent people. Anyways not much is allowed to be done by the rights group which is working in Saudi Arabia.