Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Branch directors of the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that
Commission members will have to take part in compulsory field training programs and attend awareness courses. This move comes after the Saudi Interior Ministry issued a decision that limits the activities of commission members to arrests and to handing over of suspects they arrest to local authorities for questioning.
The Interior Ministry has warned that any members of the commission that breach the new regulations will be relieved of their duties.
Sheikh Muhammad al-Rifai, director of the Yanbu Branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “all branches of the commission were notified of the Interior Ministry’s decision, which stipulates that the role of the commission ends once the suspect is arrested and handed over to the police.” He added: “This step will lift from the members of the commission the burden of the usual long procedures that had been carried out for quite some time and that involved the interrogation of suspects in commission branches, because these procedures will now be carried out in police stations.”
Another official from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Jeddah believes that that “the decision will not affect the role of the commission in confronting corruption and violations.” He pointed out that “a great burden has been lifted from the commission’s men and the number of men working in the field will increase, thus allowing them to play a more effective role.”
It is worth noting that the head of the Public Investigation and Prosecution Department has received a copy of the Interior Ministry’s statement for follow-up purposes. The department will also be responsible for conducting surprise inspection tours of the commission’s branches to make sure that they do not include any detention rooms or keep detainees in their custody for interrogation. The Public Investigation and Prosecution Department will also report to the concerned parties to inform them of the outcome of its inspection, in accordance with Article 3, paragraph (f) of the Public Investigation and Prosecution Department bylaw, and Article 25 of the Penal Procedure Code.
The circulated statement calls for maximum effort to ensure that the commission’s men abide by these directives in all their activities.