Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, although, according to the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia adopted by royal decree in 1992, the king must comply with Sharia (that is, Islamic law) and the Quran. No written modern constitution has ever been written for Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia remains the only Arab Nation where no national elections have ever taken place, since its creation.
No political parties or national elections are permitted and according to The Economist’s 2010 Democracy Index, the Saudi government is the seventh most authoritarian regime from among the 167 countries rated. Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s rise to power set Saudi Arabia on a new course branded by the authorities as a reform initiative, but which has in fact been marked by a harsh crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful activism. Hundreds of public figures, Human Rights activists, scholars, businessmen and members of the royal family have been arrested.
Due to the absence of a formal Constitution and a Criminal Code, legal uncertainty prevails, and large discretionary powers are bestowed upon non-independent judges, which often use these powers to prosecute peaceful dissidents under the pretext of national security and terrorism. Arbitrary detention continues to be practised systematically, with individuals spending months or even years in incommunicado detention, being tortured and then sentenced following court proceedings which violate fair trial guarantees. The country maintains one of the highest death penalty rates worldwide.
Penal Code (AR)
Nationality Law (AR)
Counter-Terrorism Law (AR)
Publications and Publishing Law
KSA Human Rights Commission
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