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Tue 4 Oct 2016 11:38 AM

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Saudi should introduce its own version of US Jasta bill, says lawyer

Dr Khaled Bin Abdul Aziz Al Nuwaisser says dangerous precedent has been set for other countries to introduce similar law

Saudi should introduce its own version of US Jasta bill, says lawyer
Saudi Shoura Council. (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabian authorities should enact the kingdom’s own version of US legislation allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for damages, a lawyer has said.

The US senate and house of representatives last week passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which permits families killed in the 2001 attacks to seek damages from the Saudi government. Fifteen out of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

JASTA effectively removes sovereign immunity in place to prevent lawsuits against governments.

However, the legislation has proven controversial, with critics including the Saudi cabinet saying it weakens international relations.

This week, renowned Saudi lawyer Dr Khaled Bin Abdul Aziz Al Nuwaisser urged the kingdom to enact its own JASTA legislation that would give citizens the right to sue at local courts countries and organisations that support terror against the kingdom, according to local media.

Al Nuwaisser told Saudi Gazette JASTA sets a “dangerous precedent”. He argued it would give the US Congress greater powers than the international law that protects sovereignty.

“This bill (JASTA) sets an unfortunate and a dangerous precedent,” Al Nuwaisser was quoted as saying. “The US has opened the door for all countries to pass similar laws and this is what President Obama and senior American officials had warned Congress before passing the law.

“It’s now imperative to pass a similar law or ‘Saudi JASTA’ that would allow every Saudi to take legal action against any government that sponsors terrorism against the Kingdom, including Iran and Hezbollah, by filing lawsuits at Saudi courts.”

Al Nuwaisser called on the 150-member Shura Council to draft an anti-terror sponsor law during the coming session and give it top priority. The draft law would be presented to higher authorities for endorsement, Saudi Gazette reported.

The lawyer added: “Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest victims of terrorism and terrorists. We are facing a new reality and crossroad and we have to face it boldly.

“The new law comes as a popular demand to protect the nation. It’s not to politicise things but to fight terror and its sponsors.”