Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers yesterday approved a new law on punitive
measures to ban hurting detainees and allowing those accused of crimes to resort
to the help of an agent or lawyer. The Cabinet also endorsed new rules and
regulations for legal practice.
“The new rule stipulates that the accused should be questioned without
influencing his intention or preventing him from pleading his innocence,”
Information Minister Dr. Fuad Al-Farsi told the Saudi Press Agency after the
The Cabinet, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd, also
urged the international community to take effective steps to protect the
Palestinians reeling under state terrorism. “The Palestinian issue is the chief
concern of all Arabs and Muslims and the main reason for instability in the
region,” it said.
The meeting also denounced the move by certain sections of the media to link
terrorism with Arabs and Muslims. “Islam is a religion of peace, love and
tolerance. It rejects all forms of terrorism,” it said.
The Kingdom called upon the world to fight terrorism with full determination.
However, it hoped that the recent attacks against US installations would not
distract the world from the plight of Palestinian people reeling under the
Israeli government’s terrorist activities.
In this respect, the Cabinet referred to the telephone conversation that
Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, had
with US President George W. Bush last week. Prince Abdullah urged Bush to
reactivate the peace process to achieve a lasting and just peace settlement in
the Middle East.
The law on punitive measures, which has 225 articles, bans the harming of
detainees both mentally and physically. “No punishment can be given except for
crimes prohibited by Shariah law and Saudi regulations,” it added. The law bans
detention or imprisonment except in jails or special secure units, and even then
only on the basis of an order.
“The law protects the honor of persons, their houses, offices and vehicles
and prevents criminal investigators from entering or inspecting any living
facility except in the daytime and with an order from the Commission for
Investigation and Public Prosecution (CIPP).”
The interior minister is given the right to make any arrest against a person
for committing a crime. The investigator can give the order to detain a suspect
for not more than five days.
“The detained person should be released if there is no justification or if
there is not enough evidence,” an article of the new law states.
The law explains the duties of criminal investigation officers and brings
them under the CIPP. It explains the circumstances in which a person can be
caught red-handed and the procedures to be followed by investigators in such
cases. The law also honors people’s right to communicate and will not allow
access to communication means or monitor them except with an order.
The accused should be allowed to attend court sessions without any
restrictions or restraints. “The judgment should be read out in a public session
... with the attendance of all parties of the case,” it added.
The law offers the accused, the public prosecutor and prosecutor the right to
appeal against any judgment within 30 days. A judgment will be considered null
and void if it violates the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, the consensus of Islamic
scholars, or court regulations.
The law stipulates that an accused will have the right to demand moral and
material damages if he is not convicted. The Council of Ministers will issue the
executive bylaws for punitive measures.
The new law governing legal practice has 43 articles. According to the law,
the Justice Ministry will keep separate lists of practicing and non-practicing
lawyers. A lawyer should have a degree from the College of Shariah or a
bachelor's degree in law from a Saudi university or an equivalent foreign
The justice minister will issue the license for legal practice for a
renewable period of five years. The applicant should give SR1,000 fee for the
license and SR1,000 for its renewal.
The new law allows establishment of professional companies for legal practice
by two persons or more. It said a lawyer's name will be removed from the list
and his license will be canceled if he is convicted of any crime. A committee
set up by the minister will look into the cases and propose punishments.
The law also stipulates punishment for those who impersonate lawyers or
practice their profession in violation of the rules and they will be jailed for
not more than a year and fined not less than SR30,000.
The law allows Saudi lawyers and consultants holding licenses issued by the
Justice and Commerce Ministries to continue their profession. However, it
insists that they should get their names enlisted among legal practitioners as
per the new law within five years and obtain new licenses. The justice minister
can extend this period for not more than five years.
"The law allows foreign legal practitioners, licensed before the issuance of
the law by the Cabinet on 12/7/1400H, to continue in their profession as legal
consultants on a temporary basis under certain conditions, including that they
should be full-time consultants and resident in the Kingdom for not less than
nine months each year.
The law allows a licensed Saudi lawyer to take the help of expatriate
lawyers. The justice minister will issue executive bylaws for this system. The
new law for legal practice will come into effect 90 days after its publication
in the official gazette and all rules against this law will be canceled.
The Cabinet granted the Tabuk Cement Company the license to exploit raw
gypsum in Raghama mountains in the Maqna area of the Tabuk region for 30 years.
The license covers 8.4 square kilometers. It also approved the final accounts of
the Saudi Ports Authority for 1999.