Home » Other News » Law Expert Concludes that Saudi Arabia’s Recent 2017 Anti-Terror Law Falls Short of Fully Respecting Human Rights and fails to meet due process standards.

Law Expert Concludes that Saudi Arabia’s Recent 2017 Anti-Terror Law Falls Short of Fully Respecting Human Rights and fails to meet due process standards.

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An international legal expert recently undertook a comprehensive expert legal analysis of Saudi Arabia’s recently enacted 2017 ‘Penal Law for Terrorism and its Financing (also known as 2017 anti-terror law). This recent legislation had replace an earlier counter terrorism law that was enacted in 2014, that also a previous analysis released in 2015 confirmed its widespread violation of human rights.

Professor Michael Newton, who has extensive legal experience in the field of counterterrorism had concluded that despite some amendments to the original 2014 anti-terror law, the updated 2017 legislation falls short of fully respecting important human rights principles in several areas or meeting due process standards.

From the outset of his analysis, Professor Newton set out the internationally agreed ‘Global Counter- Terrorism Strategy’, which, whilst condemning all forms and manifestations of terrorism, also stipulates that “measures to ensure the respect for human rights for all and the rule of law [are] the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism”.

After acknowledging that respect of human rights is at the core of any solid counter-terrorism strategy, Professor Newton then referred to several international standards and treaties in which he compared against provisions contained within the 2017 legislation in order to analyse its appropriateness, including: International human rights instruments such as the ICCPR, regional human rights instruments such as the Arab charter on human rights, the UN convention against torture and various UN resolutions and UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

During his analysis, Professor Newton emphasized that the 2017 anti-terror law contained the following fatal defective flaws:

  • Overly broad formulation that are not replicated in other domestic statutes or international treaties. Such broad formulation does not reflect best practise. Newton asserts that these ambiguous formulations have already been used to punish political opponents and rights advocates.
  • Failure to provide equal application of the law. The legislation has the potential for discriminatory application via prosecutorial targeting based solely on impermissible proxy criteria such as religious or political affiliation.
  • Violation of international due process standard. Newton highlights that various articles in the legislation permitted for judicial discretion over the ultimate length of detention, without setting out limits, which allowed for incommunicado detention for up to 90 days. This deprives defendants from legal representation during the different stages of investigation and prevents defendants or their legal representative from cross examining witnesses.
  • Allowed Public Prosecutors to, in times of necessity conduct searches, seizures, or arrests without obtaining the required orders from the courts.

Based on this analysis, Professor Newton goes on to offer several important recommendations to overcome the flaws contained in the 2017 anti-terror legislation,

Professor Newton’s analysis offered evidence which supports the idea that Saudi Arabia’s flawed counter-terrorism law is being used to target dissent and deprive victims of justice.

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