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Flogging reforms in Saudi Arabia

NOVANEWS

“It is highly disturbing to read or hear about such stories, which include reports where lawyers are evicted from courtrooms, jailed or flogged, all because of their differences of opinion or disputes with one judge or another.  We are afraid of turning such incidents into a trend encompassing society as a whole. After some time, perhaps university professors, doctors, engineers, teachers or other professionals may be awa

Should lawyers be flogged?

By KHALED AL-NUWAISER |
AL-EQTISADIAH

We often read newspaper reports about judges taking punitive action against lawyers in some courts in the Kingdom.

It is highly disturbing to read or hear about such stories, which include reports where lawyers are evicted from courtrooms, jailed or flogged, all because of their differences of opinion or disputes with one judge or another.

We are afraid of turning such incidents into a trend encompassing society as a whole. After some time, perhaps university professors, doctors, engineers, teachers or other professionals may be awarded with similar flogging punishments.

Punishing a lawyer with lashes would have dangerous and negative ramifications not only for the legal profession but also for the image of the country and the smooth functioning of its judicial system as well.

If we are to go ahead with accepting such means to punish lawyers, then it means that we have become part of a society that does not value justice. This is because the lawyer is part of this judicial system, which also includes judges and all others working in the sector irrespective of their ranks and positions.

I understand that there are some lawyers with whom it is very difficult to deal with.

Perhaps they are doing irreparable damage to their profession. During my long period of practice as a lawyer, I have come across several legal professionals who follow unethical practices.

Unfortunately, as an arbitrator I have also had to deal with lawyers who do not have even the least consideration for the rights of others. I am fully aware of the professional and mental pressures facing judges at our courts.

This is more evident when taking into account the general state of our courts that are not up to scratch. These courts face a shortage of qualified staffers to lend a helping hand to these judges so that they can perform their duties in the best possible manner.

On the other hand, I have come across problems and difficult situations involving a number of judges.

But I see that the major underlying problem is the lack of necessary legislation specifying the relationships between judges and lawyers so that they can together work to resolve cases satisfactorily as well as to elevate the status of the judicial system.

All of these factors should not be taken as justifications to evict a lawyer representing his client from the courtroom, detain or lash him. Such acts do more harm to the judiciary and judges than the lawyers.

Imagine a situation when a lawyer who comes to court with his client only to then face penal action himself. What would be the client’s impression of his lawyer then? How much would the embarrassment be when the lawyer faces such humiliation in front of his foreign client? Is such a situation not inflicting damage on the reputation of the Kingdom as a whole? This happens at a time when Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is taking bold steps to reform the judiciary.

The way to overcome this painful and dangerous situation is expediting the establishment of the vaunted Lawyers’ Commission. I don’t know the reason for the delay in the formation of this organization. Judges can refer cases of any lawyers involved in violating the provisions of the judicial system to this commission.

I appeal to the chairman of the Supreme Judiciary Council and the Ministry of Justice to urgently intervene and ensure lawyers are not punished in this way.

I request them to issue directives to judges telling them that the maximum disciplinary action that they can take against lawyers is preventing them from appearing in certain cases or refer their issue to the Ministry of Justice’s department for lawyers. There is no problem even if the erring lawyers are being prevented from practicing for a specific period of time.

I also suggest that taking videos of court proceedings would be helpful in taking disciplinary action against lawyers in case they behaved improperly in courtrooms. We can follow the example of a large number of countries in this respect. This would help safeguard the reputation of our country and send a message to the entire world that Saudi Arabia is a country that gives due respect to all those who are part of the judiciary, including lawyers.

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