RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has launched a new center to protect whistleblowers and witnesses to crimes that will begin operations in July.

Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mojeb approved the establishment in line with Article Four of the Law for the Protection of Whistleblowers, Witnesses, Experts and Victims.

The center will provide legal protection from threats, danger, or harm through methods stipulated in Article Fourteen of the Law, including security, as well as identity and data anonymization.

Victims can be transferred from their place of work, temporarily or permanently, and provided with alternative employment, as well as legal, psychological and social guidance.

The protection also includes provisions for security escorts and financial assistance.

Witnesses and whistleblowers can submit protection requests according to specific conditions, and can be assisted by the center without requesting help if in imminent danger.

Criminal penalties for those who harm witnesses under protection include up to three years’ imprisonment and fines of up to SR5 million ($1.3 million).

Tariq Al-Suqair, an accredited lawyer, told Arab News: “Each state has a duty to establish procedures that provide measures for the protection of people whose cooperation with the justice system in an investigation may put them at risk of physical harm.”

Saudi Arabia, which ratified the UN organized crime convention in 2005, has domestic laws that mandate protective measures for victims and witnesses of crime, he added.

Al-Suqair said that the Kingdom’s latest measures operate in accordance with Article 24 of the convention, which calls for effective protection for witnesses from retaliation or intimidation.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution has proposed an executive body to run the center and its witness protection program.

“It is expected that once the program starts, we will witness more effective control to combat sophisticated organized crimes,” Al-Suqair said.

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