Saudi Arabia's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice announced on June 10 the creation of a “department of rules and regulations” to ensure the activities of commission members comply with the law, after coming under heavy pressure for the death of two people in its custody in less than two weeks. Eighteen commission members (mutawa‘in) were detained and questioned June 3. The governmental National Society for Human Rights criticized the behavior of the religious police in May in its first report (Arabic text) since its establishment in March 2004. In May 2006, the interior ministry issued a decree stating that “the role of the commission will end after it arrests the culprit or culprits and hands them over to police, who will then decide whether to refer them to the public prosecutor.” Mutawa‘in had until recently enjoyed unchallenged powers to arrest, detain, and interrogate those suspected of moral infractions.
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