Access to Amnesty International’s website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia after the organization condemned a draft anti-terror law that would stifle peaceful protest in the kingdom, the London-based human rights group reported.
Several journalists and human rights activists based in Saudi Arabia also independently confirmed that they were unable to access the www.amnesty.org website.
“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 International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
“Saudi Arabia’s blanket denials are at odds with the draft law’s contents,” said Smart. “The Saudi Arabian government is simply adding insult to injury by curtailing freedoms in the name of countering terrorism,” he said.
Amnesty published its analysis of a leaked copy of the draft law last Friday, condemning the proposed treatment of peaceful dissent as “terrorist crimes”, as well as the wide-ranging powers the Minister of Interior would hold, free from judicial authorization or oversight.
In response, the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London released a statement on Saturday claiming concerns about the law were “baseless,” saying that the “suggestion that this draft law would be used to suppress dissent, rather than against terrorists, is wrong.”