Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi religious police banned from pursuing individuals | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq al-Awsat- The president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) Sheikh Abdullatif Bin Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Al Al-Sheikh., in a meeting with the directors of different CPVPV branches across the Kingdom, declared that the official authorities within these branches are not allowed to pursue individuals, whether they are defendants or offenders.

Stating the reasons behind his decision to ban pursuits, Sheikh Abdulrahman said that such measures involve much risk and often have dire consequences to lives and property, adding that they jeopardize both sides of the pursuit as well as innocent people.

The Head of the CPVPV, during his meeting with officials from the commission’s different branches, instructed that they must only take note of the relevant information and ID number of those wanted by the police, and then transfer the matter to the security authorities who would then proceed with the measures [of arrest], in order to avoid an overlap in the powers conferred to different government authorities. He warned that strict measures would be taken against those who fail to abide by these instructions.

The new instructions are part of a set of wider measures taken by the president of the CPVPV within the framework of a clear strategy to regulate performance on the ground, in order to achieve the interests of the public, in accordance with the interests and ambitions of the officials in charge, and in a manner that maintains the rights of the members of society.

Issue number 114 of Al-Hisbah magazine recently cited Sheikh Saleh al-Sadlan answering a query on the “Question and Answer” section of the CPVPV’s website, about some people linking the CPVPV to violence. He said such a link is wrong and has perhaps been created by ignorant or biased people, because this particular commission handles vice according to the situation and requirements of each case.

Sheikh al-Sadlan added that CPVPV employees never use violence or instigate it, “but if vice can be avoided purely by means of being firm, then we have no reservations about resorting to strict tactics in order to deter those who want corruption to prevail on earth.”

He indicated that “everyone should remember that there are various degrees of preventing vice, the final one being the use of force. Those who condemn the use of force, being one degree of preventing vice, are not aware of other methods such as defining the offence and then giving the offender advice, guidance or a talking to.”

The CPVPV had faced mounting public pressure in the past five years in the wake of a series of pursuits and attacks that resulted in incidents claiming the lives of individuals in Riyadh, Medina and Tabuk. Therefore, the CPVPV is now seeking to improve its public image in the days to come by stressing that its discourse will lay emphasis on “compassion” and “leniency” when dealing with the people.