Opinion of judges, lawyers sought by ministry in overhaul of laws to protect rights of suspects

Justice Minister Waleed Al-Samaani

Justice Minister Waleed Al-Samaani

Justice Minister Waleed Al-Samaani has asked judges and lawyers to provide him with a list of problems they have encountered in implementing the law, in preparation for the revision of criminal procedures to protect suspects.

Al-Samaani, who is also head of the Supreme Judicial Council, said the suggestions would be passed to the Council of Ministers’ Bureau of Experts (BOE), according to a report carried by a local publication on Tuesday.

The BOE has several academic and other experts who would study the proposed changes and make recommendations to Cabinet on possible amendments to the country’s laws. The BOE has already been studying current legislation, the report stated.

Meanwhile, legal experts have called on the government to launch a study on amending current criminal procedures in the country to protect the rights of suspects. Previous amendments were not satisfactory, they said.

They said Article 69 should be changed to allow suspects to have lawyers present during investigation procedures. This would speed up procedures and allow lawyers to prepare adequately for court appearances.

They said that there should also be clear mechanisms involved in how long suspects can be held in detention. This should not be left to the personal preferences of government officials, they said.

They said Article 34 should replace the word “defendant” with “suspect.” In addition, arresting officers should take statements from suspects and send them to investigating officers within 24 hours, who would in turn either detain or release them.

Article 127 should be amended to ensure the word “refer” is used when indicating that a lawsuit has been transferred between investigators and prosecutors, or from one court to another.

The ministry has, meanwhile, warned that its officials should not offer any personal information on cases or procedures to any external body that claim they are offering training outside the Kingdom.

This should only be done through official channels, the report stated.

Several young Saudis received invitations to go on training programs outside the Kingdom but these offers were not made through diplomatic channels, sources were quoted as saying.


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