Experts term minister’s directive superb step

Positive ramifications of Al-Samaani’s order not to convict on suspicious grounds stressed

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By Adnan Shabrawi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH —
Several jurists and law experts have said that a recent directive of Minister of Justice Sheikh Walid Al-Samaani to pronounce judgments only on the basis of substantial evidence and not on suspicious grounds would have many positive ramifications in the Kingdom’s judiciary.

Speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, they said this directive would contribute to the release of many people who have been detained on suspicious grounds as well as put on hold many cases that are under the consideration of the Public Prosecution. This will also put an end to the flooding of malicious litigations at the Public Prosecution and courts.

Al-Samaani, who is also president of the Supreme Judiciary Council, issued a judicial circular in which he directed all the courts in the Kingdom not to pronounce judgments on suspicious grounds and the defendants shall be awarded punishment only after the conviction has been proved by substantial evidence.

“The principles of objectivity shall be the focal point while examining cases and pronouncing judgments,” he said.

The legal experts described the minister’s directive as an unprecedented and excellent step in the Kingdom’s judicial system. They noted that the judges couldn’t convict any suspect on the basis of weak evidences.

Former judges and professors of law said the directive not to issue verdicts on suspicious grounds will pave the way for pronouncing judgments only on the basis of substantial evidences.

They underlined the need for holding workshops and field training to judicial officials and judges in effectively implementing the minister’s directive.

According to the minister’s directive, conviction of a person in a crime shall be made after proving it by all means of specific evidences, including the presumed evidence, referred to courts.

This decision represents an important historical shift in the course of criminal justice in the Kingdom, with awarding punishment to those who are convicted on the basis of substantial evidence and releasing those who have not been found guilty, the experts pointed out.

The minister’s directive also upholds the rights of defendants in the whole exercise of the judicial process, according to some lawyers.

The lawyers — Saad Al-Bahouth, Bandar Al-Amoudi and Ehab Abu Duraifa — told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that higher judicial authorities have issued instructions to expedite the procedures of investigation and trial of cases. They pointed out that article 22 of the Criminal Procedures Law stipulates that the suspect shall be made known about the reasons at the time of their arrest or detention.

It also guarantees the right of the detainee to seek the help of a lawyer during the phases of investigation and trial, and the right of the detainee to inform anyone concerned about the detention.

There is also a provision in the law to get the signature of the suspect to the effect that he is fully aware of his rights.


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