Royal Decree No.(M/39), 28 Rajab 1422 [16 October 2001]
Umm al-Qura No.(3867), 17 Sha'ban 1422 [3 November 2001]

The English version of this document is for guidance only.
The Arabic version is the governing text.




Article 1 : Courts shall apply Shari'ah principles, as derived from the Qur'an and Sunnah (the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) to the cases that are brought before them.

They shall also apply laws promulgated by the state that do not contradict the provisions of the Qur'an and Sunnah, and shall comply with the procedure set forth in this Law.

The provisions of this Law shall apply to criminal cases that have not been decided and to proceedings that have not been completed prior to the implementation thereof.

Article 2 : No person shall be arrested, searched, detained, or imprisoned except in cases provided by law. Detention or imprisonment shall be carried out only in the places designated for such purposes and shall be for the period prescribed by the competent authority. An arrested person shall not be subjected to any bodily or moral harm. Similarly, he shall not be subjected to any torture or degrading treatment.

Article 3 : No penal punishment shall be imposed on any person except in connection with a forbidden and punishable act, whether under Shari'ah principles or under the statutory laws, and after he has been convicted pursuant to a final judgment rendered after a trial conducted in accordance with Shari'ah principles.

Article 4 : Any accused person shall have the right to seek the assistance of a lawyer or a representative to defend him during the investigation and trial stages.

Article 5 : If a case is formally filed with a court, such case shall not be transferred to another court except after the trial court has rendered a judgment thereon, or has decided that it has no jurisdiction, and the transfer of the case to the competent authority.

Article 6 : Courts shall try the accused for the offenses of which they are charged in accordance with the Shari'ah principles and the procedures herein provided for. The court may consider facts not raised by the Prosecutor, if no investigation is necessary.

Article 7 : Trial hearings, including the hearing set for the pronouncement of sentence, shall be attended by the required number of judges, failing which substitute judge(s) shall be assigned to complete the quorum.

Article 8 : Deliberations among members of the court shall be conducted in closed session, and each member shall express his opinion before the decision rendered. Decisions shall be rendered either unanimously or by majority vote. A dissenting judge shall declare his dissent and explain the reasons thereof, and the majority shall explain their opinion in the response to the dissent, which shall be entered into the record. Participation in the deliberations shall be restricted only to those judges who have attended the proceedings.

Article 9 : Sentences shall be appealable by either the convicted person or the Prosecutor.

Article 10 : Criminal panels of the Appellate Court shall consist of five judges to review sentences of death, stoning, amputation or qisas (retaliatory punishment) in cases other than death. For other cases, they shall consist of three judges.

Article 11 : Sentences of death, stoning, amputation, or qisas in cases other than death that have been affirmed by the Appellate Court shall not be final unless affirmed by the Permanent Panel of the Supreme Judicial Council.

Article 12 : If the Supreme Judicial Council does not affirm the relevant sentence in implementation of Article 11 hereof, the said sentence shall be reversed and the case shall be remanded for reconsideration by other judges.

Article 13 : Investigation and trial of offenses committed by juvenile offenders, including girls, shall be conducted in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations.

Article 14 : The Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution shall conduct its investigation and prosecution in accordance with its Law and the implementing regulations thereof.

Article 15 : All public law enforcement persons shall implement the orders of judicial entities entered pursuant to this Law, and may use any appropriate means thereof.






Chapter I: Initiation of Criminal Action


Article 16 : Pursuant to its Law, the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution shall have jurisdiction to initiate and follow-up criminal action before the competent courts.

Article 17 : The victim or his representative and his heirs may initiate criminal action with respect to all cases involving a private right of action, and shall follow-up any such case before the competent court. The competent court shall serve a summons to notify the Prosecutor.

Article 18 : No criminal action shall be initiated nor investigation proceedings conducted in crimes involving a private right of action, except through a complaint by the victim or his representative or heirs, filed with the competent authority, unless the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution considers that the filing of such an action and the investigation into those crimes will serve the public interest.

Article 19 : If it appears to the court that there is a conflict between the interest of the victim or his heirs and the interest of the victim's representative, such representative shall be excluded from continuing in the proceedings and another representative shall be appointed.

Article 20 : If it appears to the court in any case pending before it that such a case involves accused persons other than those being prosecuted or facts related to the charge in question, it shall notify the complainant accordingly in order to complete what is required for the proper consideration and adjudication of the case in a manner compatible with Shari'ah principles. This procedure shall apply to the Appellate Court whenever appropriate.

Article 21 : If acts are committed which may contravene court orders or constitute contempt of court or influence any member of such court or any of the parties or witnesses in connection with a case pending before it, the court shall review these acts and render its judgment in accordance with Shari'ah principles.


Chapter II: Lapse of Criminal Action


Article 22 : Public criminal action shall lapse in the following events:

  • Issuance of a final judgment
  • Grant of pardon by the King on pardonable matters
  • Repentance, which satisfies the Shari'ah requirements
  • Death of the accused.

However, the lapse of public criminal action shall not impede the continuation of a private right of action.

Article 23 : A private criminal action lapses in the following two cases:

  • Issuance of a final judgment
  • Grant of pardon by the victim or his heirs.

However, the grant of pardon by the victim or his heirs shall not preclude proceedings of the public criminal action.





Chapter I: Collection and Seizure of Information


Article 24 : Search for and arrest of criminal offenders and collection of information and evidence necessary for the investigation and indictment shall be undertaken by criminal investigation officers.

Article 25 : Criminal investigation officers shall, in conducting their duties as provided for in this Law, be subject to the supervision of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. This Bureau may ask the competent authority to consider any violation or omission by any such officer and may request that disciplinary action be taken against him, without prejudice to the right to initiate criminal prosecution.

Article 26 : The proceedings relating to criminal investigation shall be conducted by the following persons, each within his jurisdiction:

  • Members of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution within their jurisdiction.
  • Directors of police and their assistants in the various provinces, counties, and districts.
  • Public security officers, secret service officers, passport officers, intelligence officers, civil defense officers, prison directors and officers, border guard officers, special security forces officers, National Guard officers and military officers, each in accordance with their specified duties with respect to crimes committed within their respective jurisdictions.
  • Heads of counties and chiefs of districts.
  • Captains of Saudi ships and airplanes, with respect to crimes committed on board.
  • Heads of centers of the Bureau for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, with respect to matters falling within their jurisdiction.
  • Employees and other individuals who have powers of criminal investigation pursuant to special regulations.
  • Entities, commissions and other persons who have been assigned to conduct an investigation pursuant to the regulations.

Article 27 : Criminal investigation officers shall, each within his jurisdiction, accept notifications and complaints communicated to them with respect to all crimes, conduct the investigation, collect relevant information in the form of records that shall be signed by them, summarize and date the same in a special register, and promptly notify the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. The criminal investigation officers shall move to the crime scene to maintain its integrity and seize all that may be relevant to the crime, reserve evidence, and take whatever action required under the circumstances. He shall enter these matters in the special register.

Article 28 : During the process of collection of evidence, the criminal investigation officer shall hear statements of those who may possess information with respect to facts and perpetrators of crimes, question any suspect, and enter the same in the relevant records. They may seek the assistance of experts, including physicians, and seek their advice in writing.

Article 29 : The complaint filed by the person harmed because of a crime shall be considered as a claim of private right of action, unless he expressly waives such right before the Investigator. The Investigator shall enter any such waiver into the record and shall have it witnessed. In case of defamation and qisas , such waiver shall be certified by the competent court.


Chapter II: Flagrante Delecto


Article 30 : A crime shall be deemed to be “flagrante delecto” when it is actually being committed, or shortly thereafter. It shall also be deemed flagrante delecto if the victim is found pursuing another person or that person is being pursued by a shouting crowd subsequent to the commission of the crime, or when the perpetrator is found a short time after commission in possession of tools, weapons, property, equipment, or other things indicative that he is the perpetrator or an accomplice, or if it found in his person at the time some indications or signs pointing to that.

Article 31 : In case of flagrante delecto, the criminal investigation officer shall promptly move to the scene of the crime to view and preserve material evidence, and note the conditions of the places and people and whatever may serve to determine the truth. He shall take the testimony of those present or any person in possession of information relevant to the crime and its perpetrator. He shall promptly notify the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution of his movement to the scene of the crime.

Article 32 : In case of flagrante delecto, the criminal investigation officer may, upon his arrival at the crime scene, stop whoever is found at the scene from leaving or moving away from that place until the required record is drafted. For that purpose, he may immediately summon any person from whom information relevant to the case can be obtained. If any person present at the scene fails to obey the order of the criminal investigation officer, or if the person summoned refuses to appear, a note to that effect shall be entered into the record and the violator shall be referred to a competent court to take whatever action deemed necessary.


Chapter III: Arrest of the Accused


Article 33 : Where a crime is in the process of commission, the criminal investigation officer shall arrest the suspect present at the scene of the crime where there is sufficient evidence for his implication. A record of that shall be made and the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution shall be immediately notified. In all cases, the person under arrest shall not be detained for more than twenty-four hours, except pursuant to a written order from the Investigator. If the accused is not present, the criminal investigation officer shall issue an order for his arrest and a note to that effect shall be entered into the record.

Article 34 : The criminal investigation officer shall immediately hear the statement by the accused. If the accused fails to establish his innocence, the officer shall, within twenty-four hours, refer him, along with the record of the Investigator who shall within twenty-four hours, interrogate the accused under arrest and shall order either that the accused be detained or released.

Article 35: In cases other than flagrante delecto, no person shall be arrested or detained except on the basis of order from the competent authority. Any such person shall be treated decently and shall not be subjected to any bodily or moral harm. He shall also be advised of the reasons of his detention and shall be entitled to communicate with any person of his choice to inform him of his arrest.

Article 36 : No person shall be detained or imprisoned except in the places designated for that purpose by Law. The administration of any prison or detention center shall not receive any person except pursuant to an order specifying the reasons and period for such imprisonment duly signed by the competent authority. The accused shall not remain in custody following the expiry of the period specified in that order.

Article 37 : Members of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution shall, at any time and without regard to official hours, visit the prisons and other places of detention falling within their jurisdictional areas to ensure that no person is unlawfully imprisoned or detained. They shall have access to the relevant files of the prisons and detention centers and communicate with prisoners and detainees, and receive whatever they submit in connection therewith. The officers of prisons and detention centers shall provide the members of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution with any assistance they may need for the discharge of their duties.

Article 38 : Any prisoner or detainee shall have the right to submit, at any time, a written or verbal complaint to the prison or detention center officer and request that he communicate it to a member of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. The officer shall accept the complaint and promptly communicate it [to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution] and provide the prisoner or detainee with an acknowledgement of receipt. The administration of the prison or detention center shall designate a separate office for the member of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution as may enable him to follow-up the cases of the prisoners or detainees.

Article 39 : Whoever has any information that a person is unlawfully or improperly imprisoned or detained, or is imprisoned or detained in a place not intended for imprisonment or detention, shall notify the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. Upon notification, the competent member of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution shall immediately proceed to the place where the prisoner or detainee is kept and shall conduct the necessary investigation. If it is found that such imprisonment or detention is unlawful, he shall order the release of the prisoner or detainee. A note to that effect shall be entered into the record and submitted to the competent authority which shall implement whatever action required by the laws in respect to the persons causing the same.


Chapter IV: Search of Persons and Dwellings


Article 40 : The privacy of persons, their dwellings, offices, and vehicles shall be protected. The privacy of a person protects his body, clothes, property, and belongings. The privacy of a dwelling covers any fenced area or any other place enclosed within barriers or intended to be used as a dwelling.

Article 41 : A criminal investigation officer may not enter or search any inhabited place except in the cases provided for in the laws, pursuant to a search warrant specifying the reasons for the search, issued by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. However, other dwellings may be searched pursuant to a search warrant, specifying the reasons, issued by the Investigator. If the proprietor or the occupant of a dwelling refuses to allow the criminal investigation officer free access, or resists such entry, he may use all lawful means, as may be required in the circumstances, to enter that dwelling.

A dwelling may be entered in case of a request for help from within, or in case of a demolition, drowning, fire, or the like, or in hot pursuit of a perpetrator.

Article 42 : A criminal investigation officer may search the accused where it is lawful to arrest him, which may include his body, clothes, and belongings. If the accused is a female, the search shall be conducted by a female assigned by the criminal investigation officer.

Article 43 : In the case of flagrante delecto, a criminal investigation officer may search the dwelling of the accused and collect relevant items that may help determine the truth, if there is credible evidence that such items exist there.

Article 44 : If it appears from circumstantial evidence during the search of a dwelling of an accused that he, or any other person who has been present therein, is concealing any relevant evidence, the criminal investigation officer shall be entitled to search that person.

Article 45 : No search shall be conducted except for the purposes of searching for items relevant to the crime being investigated or for which information is being collected. However, if such search incidentally reveals unlawful material the possession of which is unlawful or any evidence associated with any other crime, the criminal investigation officer shall collect such evidence and a note to that effect shall be entered into the record.

Article 46: A dwelling shall be searched in the presence of its owner or his representative or any adult member of his family residing with him. If no such person is present, the search shall be conducted in the presence of the Umda (Chief) of the quarter or any comparable officer or two witnesses. The owner of the dwelling or his representative may peruse the search warrant and a note to that effect shall be entered into the record.

Article 47 : The search record shall include the following:

  • The name of the officer who has conducted the search, his title, date and time of the search.
  • The text of the search warrant or an explanation of the urgency that necessitated the search without a warrant.
  • The names and signatures of the persons who were present at the time of the search.
  • A detailed description of the seized items.
  • Declaration of any action taken during the search and those taken with respect to the seized items.

Article 48 : The criminal investigation officer may not open sealed or closed documents found in the dwelling of the accused. A statement to this effect shall be entered into the record and be submitted to the competent Investigator.

Article 49 : Before leaving the place of search, items and documents found therein shall be kept in a safe and locked place, tied together whenever possible, and sealed. The date of seizure and a reference to the matter for which the seizure was made shall be recorded on a strip inside the seal.

Article 50 : The seals referred to under Article 49 shall not be removed except in the presence of the accused or his representative or the person with whom those items were found, unless they fail to appear before the competent authority within the designated time, after having been duly summoned.

Article 51 : The search shall be conducted during daytime, after sunrise and before sunset in accordance with the powers conferred by law. No access to dwellings during the night shall be allowed except during the commission of a crime..

Article 52 : If there is no person other than an accused woman in the dwelling to be searched, the officers carrying out the search shall be accompanied by a woman.

Article 53 : Subject to the provisions of Articles 42 and 44, if there are some women in the dwelling, and if the entry of that dwelling is not for the purpose of arresting or searching these women, the officers in charge of such search shall be accompanied by a woman. The women inside the dwelling shall be given time to put on their veils or leave the dwelling and shall be afforded all reasonable assistance that does not negatively affect the search and its results.

Article 54 : No person other than the accused and no dwelling other than his shall be searched, except where there are strong indications that such search would help in the investigation.


Chapter V: Seizure of Mail and Surveillance of Conversations


Article 55 : Mail, cables, telephone conversations and other means of communication shall be inviolable and, as such, shall not be perused or surveiled except pursuant to an order stating the reasons thereof and for a limited period as herein provided for.

Article 56 : The Director of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution may issue an order authorizing seizure of mail, publications, and parcels and surveillance and recording of telephone conversations, if such procedure is deemed useful in determining the truth related to a crime that has actually been committed. Such order shall state the reasons thereof and shall be for a period not exceeding ten days renewable according to the requirements of the investigation.

Article 57 : The Investigator alone may peruse the mail, documents, and any other seized items and may listen to any recorded material. He may issue orders that any such material, or copies thereof, be kept in the file of the case or returned to its former owner or to the addressee.

Article 58 : The content of mail and cables seized shall be communicated to the accused or to the addressee, or they be given copies thereof as soon as possible, unless it is deemed to have a negative effect on the investigation process.

Article 59 : The person who has a right to the seized items may claim possession of such items from the Investigator. In case of refusal, he may petition the head of the department with which the Investigator is connected.

Article 60 : The Investigator and whoever obtains information about the articles and documents seized shall keep the same undisclosed, and shall not make use thereof in any way or otherwise disclose the same to a third party, except in circumstances required by the law. In case he unlawfully discloses or makes use of the same by whatever means, he shall be held accountable.

Article 61 : Subject to the provisions of Article 58, if the person in whose possession these documents were sized has an urgent interest therein, he shall be provided with a copy certified by the Investigator.

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The revitalization of Saudi Arabia's political system reflects the nation's adaptability to modern development without compromising its religious and cultural values.

Basic System of Government
The Basic System of Government identifies the nature of the state, its goals and responsibilities, as well as the relationship between the ruler and citizens.

Council of Ministers System
In 1953, King Saud bin Abdulaziz established the Council of Ministers to facilitate the Kingdom's development.

Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative Council)
The primary function of Majlis Al-Shura is to advise the King on issues of importance to the nation.

Provincial System
To further raise the efficiency of administration and to promote the continued development of the county's provinces and their extensive social services programs, King Fahd promulgated new bylaws for the Provincial System in 1992.