Comprehensive judicial system is needed direly

Comprehensive judicial system is needed direly

Hala Al-Qahtani

By Hala Al-Qahtani

EXECUTIVE courts in the Kingdom have won the United Nations Award for technical excellence. The award was given for its electronic system for implementation services, whose most important project is paperless courts.

This strategic and effective project aims at improving performance of executive courts. The award is an international recognition for Justice Ministry’s efforts to cope with digital transformation of judicial services in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia qualified for the award after taking part in a competition organized by the International Telecommunication Union in collaboration with the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UNESCO and the UN Development Program (UNDP).

The annual contest is to encourage and select the best information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives. The Saudi ministry’s paperless court project was selected for the award from 345 projects submitted from different parts of the world.

Everybody will agree that the new electronic system introduced by the executive courts in the Kingdom would save a lot of time and energy and facilitate court proceedings, ensure speedy justice and prevent delaying tactics used by defendants in executing court orders.

Unfortunately, the ministry’s paperless court initiative has not received adequate media coverage and many people are unaware of its significance in strengthening the Kingdom’s judicial system. The new electronic system would follow every stage of the implementation of the court order from the time of application submitted by the plaintiff to execute the order.

This advanced system enables people to follow progress of their application without visiting the court. It will strengthen the executive court judge’s powers as a result of electronic linkage with a number of relevant government departments and agencies such as the ministries of commerce and investment and interior and Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.

The system is also linked with major newspapers and this was launched last week as part of the Justice Ministry’s electronic linkage project. People can apply for this service by logging onto the ministry’s website and filling the required form. Once the application is accepted, they will be asked to make necessary payment to publicize the court order through newspapers.

Such newspaper advertisements are required when the court finds it difficult to locate the defendant tasked to implement the court order. If the defendant did not respond within five days after the advertisement, measures will be taken against him according to the executive bylaw, which include denial of service, travel ban and in some cases imprisonment.

The Justice Ministry and its top official, the minister, deserve all praise for this remarkable technological progress and we still look at it with amazement. We believe that it would not end there and the ministry would make continuous efforts to further improve judicial services in the Kingdom.

Let’s agree that we should achieve excellence not only in electronic services but also in realizing a comprehensive judicial system. We know that the present system is not yet linked with two major agencies – the public security and civil rights – which play a significant role in implementing court orders related to many personal affairs cases.

We need an effective mechanism to make sure police and civil rights department follow up implementation of court orders without delay. Because of delays people still complain about the system despite improvement in electronic services. We hear these complaints especially from regions outside Riyadh because people want total improvement in judicial procedures.

People will realize the system is successful only when the court takes effective measures to ensure implementation of its orders without delay. The implementation of court orders is often delayed due to negligence of police and civil rights department officials. The social affairs agency and the reconciliation committee must also play their roles to implement court orders.

As we live in an era where moral, human and social values have deteriorated and many conflicts get out of hand without finding a solution within families, I think it’s imperative to set out clear civil laws to regulate social relations and personal affairs, without leaving them to individual fiqhi opinions of judges and executive agencies, in order to strengthen our judicial system.