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Saudi Arabia Monitors its Lawyers Tweets

Saudi Arabia is monitoring tweets by lawyers – to ensure that they don't break laws. “Offending” lawyers are subjected to punishment according to the severity of their tweets, a Saudi official stated.

Speaking to Arabic-daily Al Sharq, Ministry of Justice spokesman Fahad Al Barkan said all lawyers are being monitored for their “behaviour and interests.” He added:

There isn't a special desk charged with monitoring lawyers, but we monitor their tweets and what they discuss related to certain cases when they break the law.

He added that punishment varied from a reprimand to a warning, to the withdrawal of their license.

On Twitter, Saudi netizens retaliate under the Arabic hashtag #العدل_تراقب_تغريدات_المحامين, which translates to, the Ministry of Justice is Monitoring Lawyers’ Tweets.

Essam Al Zamil describes the Saudi Ministry of Justice as one of the worst ministries in his country. He tweets [ar]:

The Ministry of Justice – one of the worst ministries – instead of focusing on improving its bad performance is spending its time to monitor what lawyers say on Twitter

Khalid Al Babtain adds:

What the lawyers tweet about doesn't warrant monitoring. Instead, they should follow up on the cases and issues being raised and benefit and help [solve cases]

Saudi lawyer Badr Al Naqethan tweets:

It's a ridiculous statement by the official spokesman for the Ministry of Justice. It is bad for the reputation of lawyers and the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] and should not be allowed to pass. Our meeting is at 9pm

And Mohamed Al Ebrahim responds to his tweet:

If you as lawyers, who use the law to protect us from the brutality of the regime, are afraid, what is left in their country? What will this country turn to?

Ibrahim Al Dossary reckons that lawyers are being bullied, to deter them from creating awareness among people about their rights. He writes:

Why are they afraid of the tweets of lawyers? Because lawyers make people aware of their rights

Sultan Altass says the lack of a union for lawyers is what makes lawyers vulnerable in Saudi Arabia:

If the lawyers had a professional union to protect their rights and defend them, the Ministry of Justice would not have dared threaten them

Abdulla Aljebreen wonders:

What kind of people are those and what world do they live in? Nations have long allowed for free thought and they are assassinating the free word

And Einstain-Arab jokes:

Lawyers should take precautions while tweeting. We also advise them to commend and flatter the Minister of Justice in their tweets

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