- - Saturday, June 24, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman recently issued a royal decree, changing the name of the Saudi Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution to the more concise Public Prosecution. He also relieved Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of his role as minister of the interior and overseer of criminal investigations. Public prosecution now reports directly to King Salman, which will have a huge impact on Saudi Arabia’s legal system.

The duties of the Saudi police once fell under multiple government sectors. The police not only collected evidence and conducted investigations, but also prosecuted defendants. This created a conflict of interest that led to widespread misconduct. The Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution was created to give the judicial authority a separate entity. However, it was established under the Ministry of the Interior, which led to a concentration of power and insufficient checks and balances. To address this issue, King Salman granted prosecution full independence.

Reforming prosecution’s organizational structure demonstrates a concerted effort to modernize Saudi Arabia, modeling it after western society, where separation of powers is commonly practiced. The Saudi government aims to implement these changes without sacrificing its Islamic identity. With the decision to give full autonomy to Public Prosecution, the Saudi government is on the right track. In a country where half of the population is below age 25, young leadership, represented by the newly appointed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has already had a positive impact. Now that Prince Mohammed is poised to be the next king, a new Islamic identity is certainly on the horizon.

ASSEL ALJAIED

Wake Forest, N.C.

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