King Abdullah bin Abd al-‘Aziz
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Re: Draft Law of Sanctions for Crimes of Terrorism and Its Financing
Human Rights Watch is writing to urge you to withdraw the draft Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and Its Financing, because it would grossly undermine the protection of human rights in Saudi Arabia.
The draft law contains numerous flaws that seriously undermine basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in the name of combating terrorism. It attempts to give a veneer of legality to practices of the Ministry of Interior that violate Saudi Arabia’s obligation to protect and promote fundamental human rights. Currently the domestic intelligence service under the Interior Ministry (al-mabahith al-‘amma) carries out arbitrary arrests and detains suspects in its own detention centers without charge or judicial supervision, often incommunicado for prolonged periods. The Interior Ministry detains persons before trial for longer than the six months allowed under Saudi law, and even beyond the one year purportedly permitted to detain national security suspects under a secret royal decree (7560/Ba/Mim, of July 11, 2005). The ministry also denies detainees access to legal counsel during interrogation and detention, in violation of Saudi law.
Attached is a memorandum that outlines Human Rights Watch’s concerns regarding the draft law. We urge you, in drafting a new counterterrorism law for your country, to instruct the Ministries of Interior and Justice to consult with United Nations and other international human rights experts regarding best practices in protecting human rights while countering terrorism. We also urge you to invite such experts to monitor and evaluate prisons, trials, and rehabilitation programs of terrorist suspects and those convicted of terrorism offenses. Finally, we encourage you to invite the United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, for a country visit to Saudi Arabia.
I look forward to hearing from you in the near future with regard to this important matter, and wish you a blessed Ramadan.