Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz today chaired in Riyadh the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, which was briefed on developments since the terrorist attacks targeting economic and government facilities in the United States of America, particularly the biased attempts by certain western media to link terrorism with Arabs and Muslims. The cabinet reiterated the Kingdom's full support for and cooperation with international efforts aimed at combating terrorism, pointing out that Saudi Arabia has been in the forefront in this fight and noting that it has for several years been calling on the entire world to be firm and combat the phenomenon, starting with an agreement on the definition of terrorism and research into its different aspects, including its negative impact on global stability. The cabinet repeated a categorical rejection of all attempts to link terrorist acts with Islam and Muslims, attesting to the fact that Islam is a peace-loving, amicable and tolerant religion that renounces all forms of terrorism.
The cabinet went on to express the hope that the latest developments in the United States, and the focus on the issue of eradicating terrorism, will not lead the world to neglect the sufferings of the Palestinian people resulting from the state terrorism practiced by Israel, which consists of brutal practices, the killing of innocent people, the destruction of homes, the forceful seizure of land, economic siege and damage to fruitful trees. King Fahd reiterated what was declared by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz during a telephone conversation with U.S. President George W. Bush last week, that the peace process in the Middle East calls for serious rethinking by the U.S. administration and all honest people in the world. The Palestinian cause, which is of interest to all Arabs and Muslims, is one of the factors of instability in the region, and the U.S. role to further boost the Middle East peace process and achieve a fair and comprehensive peace is very important. The cabinet drew the attention of the international community to the importance of efforts to stop Israel's blatant practices, provide international protection for the Palestinian people, and end the occupation, killings, and terror inflicted by the Israeli authorities.
Turning to domestic matters, and in accordance with recommendations from the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura), the cabinet approved two major new laws, one on legal practice and the other on the penal code. The Minister of Justice shall issue executive bylaws for the legal practice system, and the Council of Ministers shall issue the executive bylaws for the penal code. In relation to serious crimes, the system gives the Minister of Interior the right to detain. The new laws shall come into effect 90 days after publication in the official gazette and all prior legislation contrary to them shall be annulled.
The 43-article legal practice law stipulates, among other items, that the Ministry of Justice shall supervise the practice of law in the Kingdom and shall issue licenses for legal practice for a renewable period of five years. A lawyer shall have a degree from the Shariah Institute, a bachelor's degree in law from a Saudi university, or an equivalent foreign degree. Professional law firms may be set up by two or more persons. The penalty for impersonating a lawyer or practicing law in violation of the rules shall be imprisonment for not more than a year and a fine of not less than SR 30,000 [U.S. $ 8,000]. Foreign legal practitioners already licensed may continue temporarily for a period of five years in their profession as legal consultants under certain conditions, such as being full-time consultants and resident in the Kingdom for not less than nine months each year. A licensed Saudi lawyer may employ expatriate help.
The 225-article penal code stipulates, among other items, that no punishment be given except for crimes prohibited by shariah (Islamic Law) and Saudi regulations. The code prohibits coercion, or infliction of physical or moral harm on those arrested, and stipulates that the accused have the right to receive legal assistance from a lawyer. The code prohibits detention or imprisonment except in jails or special secure units, and then only on the issuance of a court order. The law shall protect the privacy of persons, their homes, places of employment, and vehicles, and prevent criminal investigators from entering or inspecting any residential facility except during daylight hours and with an order from the Commission for Investigation and Public Prosecution (CIPP). Criminal investigators may not detain a suspect for more than five days, and the detainee shall be released if there is no justification or if there is not enough evidence. The law explains the duties of criminal investigation officers, and procedures to be followed in cases where someone is caught in flagrante delicto. It respects the privacy of communication, and forbids the monitoring of any means of communication except with a court order. The accused may attend court sessions without restriction, and the judgment shall be read out in a public session with all parties in attendance. The accused and the prosecutor shall have the right of appeal up to 30 days following any judgment. A judgment shall be considered null and void if it violates the Holy Qur’an, the sunnah (teachings of the Prophet Muhammad), the consensus of the ulema (Islamic scholars), or any court regulation. The accused shall have the right of redress if there is no conviction.