In his column for Asharq Alawsat, Hussein Shabokshi argues that seeing the judiciary of Saudi Arabia as an easy target for complaint does disservice to both the judiciary and the argument. While there are plenty of problems with the judiciary seen as a whole, the real problems tend to be with individual judges or their decisions. The easy argument also ignores the fact that major changes have taken place — and continue to take place — in how the Saudi legal system works. Problematic judges are retrained or removed; the legal process is being reworked into a more effective and streamlined system; laws are being codified.

Criticism of the judiciary should continue, when it is properly aimed. Trivial argument, though, just clutters the mind and does nothing to solve the real problems.

The Saudi judiciary: An imperfect picture
Hussein Shabokshi

Numerous Saudi state entities have had their fair share of criticism and remarks. This includes vital and major sectors such as health, education and the judiciary, all of which are administrative apparatuses that are directly linked to a citizen’s interests and rights, and all of which function as a bridge between the state and the populace. These entities have all been under the microscope and received critical remarks, proposals for development and comparisons with other experiences. However, the judiciary in Saudi Arabia has always been the most prominent subject for dialogue and debate, and has become an “easy” target for criticism. Some of its shortcomings – which could otherwise be explained as mere anomalies or mistakes – have been broadly generalized and used to condemn the entire judicial apparatus, with all its various sectors and personnel.

This manner of generalization is an easy and over simplistic way of dealing with the challenges of development. The judicial authority in Saudi Arabia, in general, is an operative and productive one as can be evidenced by the efficient and mature manner in which it has handled legal proceedings over the past years, in different districts and in a variety of fields and cases. Generally speaking, the Saudi judicial system is widely accepted and looked upon positively, both with regards to its traditional branches as well as its newly established sectors where modern technologies are used.


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