HRW Raps Riyadh Over Terror Laws

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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A counter-terrorism law drafted in Saudi Arabia is a problematic assault to basic human rights law, Human Rights Watch complained.

Human Rights Watch, in a letter to Saudi King Abdallah, called on the kingdom to pull the draft law because it permits what the rights group said were serious human rights violations.

“The draft counter-terrorism law is trying to enshrine as legal the Saudi Interior Ministry’s unlawful practices,” Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “It lumps peaceful political opposition together with violent acts and ensures that the accused won’t get a fair trial.”

The organization said it reviewed a July 22 draft of the measure from a source in the country.

Human Rights Watch said the draft law is exceedingly vague on its definition of terrorism and severely curtails the right to freedom of expression. Furthermore, judicial authorities are given vast leeway to undermine the right to a fair trial in a court of law.

The draft measure would add more than 20 crimes to the list those carrying the death penalty. Simply making a threat of violence against the state is punishable by death, the draft law states.

“We believe these flaws to be so serious, and ultimately so detrimental to the fundamental rights of all Saudis, that an entirely new law to address terrorist offenses be drafted and given consideration,” the rights group stated.

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