Saudi Arabia to Let in Foreign Lawyers

Published May 23rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Saudi Arabia plans to allow foreign lawyers to practice in the kingdom as part of an overhaul of the legal profession, a newspaper reported on Tuesday. 

Justice Minister Abdullah Mohammad al-Sheikh, quoted in Arab News, said statutes have been drafted to form a new professional code of practice in the kingdom, which enforces Islamic sharia laws. 

The new regulations will be published after final clearance from the authorities, he said. 

The justice minister insisted earlier this month that sharia as applied in Saudi Arabia was the best guarantor of human rights, rejecting criticism from Amnesty International of the Saudi legal system. 

"By dissuading sinners who are thinking of sinning again and in discouraging those who are considering committing sins, it (corporal punishment) guarantees the rights of other members of society," Sheikh said. 

Amnesty, in a string of reports since March, has criticized what it called a lack of safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention in the Saudi legal system, and its summary and secret trial proceedings. 

The London-based group has also highlighted the absence of the right to prompt access to a lawyer upon detention, and the use of confessions extracted under duress as sole evidence for conviction. 

It accuses Saudi Arabia of arbitrary arrests, torture and executions, the persecution of political opponents and religious minorities and cruel judicial punishments – RIADH (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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