The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the kingdom's religious police, has come under fire over the past few years for their strict and sometimes brutal clamp-downs on what is perceived as un-Islamic behavior, fueling international criticism of Saudi Arabia's human-rights record.
The organization enforces religious rules such as a ban on men and women mixing, Islamic dress code, prayer attendance and the prohibition on the possession and consumption of alcohol.
The Saudi Al-Watan reported that the commission was planning to restructure itself. A spokesman for the commission, 'Abd Al-Muhsin Al-Qafari, said the features of the restructured commission would include restructuring the legal administration and creating new units, among them one that will deal with human rights.
This new unit will begin operating shortly under the direct supervision of the commission's director and it will deal with human rights "in accord with just Islamic principles and international rights treaties."
Wajiha Al-Huweidar, a Saudi human-rights activist, said the move was nothing short of hypocritical.
"Since when is interfering in people's private lives part of the human-rights agenda?" she asked The Media Line rhetorically. "It reflects what they do. They harass people all year long and during holidays they give away candy to people."