A key United States’ ally and a definite monarchy, Saudi Arabia Kingdom is popular due to its wealth. This kingdom has extensive oil reserves which have made the nation great wealth as it is the largest exporter of oil. The state’s wealth is visible from the luxurious livery. This simulation, however, hides the shortcomings of a kingdom plagued with social injustice and poverty. Saud’s house has ruled Saudi Arabia since it was founded in 1932, governing it by a firm Islamic Sharia law interpretation (Human Rights Network, 2017). According to Amnesty International, “Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system falls far short of international law” (BBC, 2019). The authorities of Saudi have previously stood firm with their justice system, insisting that it is founded on Islamic law (Sharia), thus above criticism (BBC, 2019). Many cases in the country have demonstrated that this monarch’s justice system does not adhere to global human rights standards.
The Justice System
The Saudi regime is responsible for outrageous violations of human rights which it does blatantly. The state’s Sunni Islamic movement referred to as the “Wahhabi interpretation of Islam” claims to cleanse the Islamic religion of every practice and innovation deviating from Prophet Mohammad’s teachings of the 7th century (Human Rights Network, 2017). Its work has led to unrestrained violations of human rights throughout the whole society. Saudi is the only country in the Islamic region which has yet to accept and adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ principles, the most extensively-acknowledged human rights phrase in history (Human Rights Network, 2017). The most repressed Saudi society group is women. This nation has a list of autocratic policies restricting their movement and freedom. There are other pieces of legislation which expose them to random brutality by men, and seriously inhibit their chances of advancing in the society (Human Rights Network, 2017).
Women in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from driving, and often restricted from visiting a doctor and travelling without a male guardian being present. They are also publicly abused, leading many activists to share different videos to raise awareness regarding the issue. In this society, violence is however not limited to females. Its regime participates in capital punishment routinely, through the use of brutal techniques like stoning and beheading. The religious police have the authority to execute people in public without hesitance. One can usually find headless bodies of the executed individuals publicly displayed, reminding people of the government’s power. This regime is responsible for furiously suppressing political dissent as well. When attempting to ask for political reforms, such as the equal economic status requested by the Shia minority, the government treats those rallying as terrorists and responds with military force (Human Rights Network, 2017).
Saudi trials are notoriously opaque and due to the absence of standard criminal code, judges are often given leeway to hand out arbitrary punishments (BBC, 2019). In other cases, such as the hearing of Jamal Khashoggi’s death, which people have argued was an order by Mohamed bin Salman, the Crown Prince, will automatically be unfair when it takes place (BBC, 2019). Khashoggi was a popular Saudi government critic based in the U.S. He was killed in an operation that was done by rogue agents that were sent to convince him to go back to the state (BBC, 2019). Despite Turkey identifying the suspected Saudi agents, none of them is known to be on trial in the Gulf kingdom. From past experiences and trials, it is clear that this one will not disclose the entire story of how Khashoggi was killed. Additionally, the West annually donates billions of dollars for aid and weapons for Saudi Arabia, strengthening the regime and making it disregard the standards of human rights (BBC, 2019).
Another case which will be unfairly ruled is that of Israa al-Ghomgham, a female Saudi Arabian critic. Al-Ghomgham might be the first female to be executed because of nonviolent protests in the Gulf kingdom (Ott, 2019). According to Ott (2019), Saudi authorities have a history of depending on the suspect’s confessions after they are tortured. Under the global law, torture is prohibited. The crimes committed by al-Ghomgham and other human rights activists are also below the standard needed to administer death penalties. The phrases that she made are also sources of accusations against her because the government argues that they fall within the disallowed expression under global law of human rights (Ott, 2019). Inspired by a young female, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, who fled Saudi to seek help in Australia, Saudi Arabian women are asking for more reforms, incorporating a ban to the guardianship system dominated by men. These women face risks of being punished because they are calling for change. The Crown Prince has eased several restrictions on the behavior of women, such as allowing them to legally drive, blunting the religious police authority, and easing of gender mixing restrictions (Hincks, 2019).
Unlike Saudi Arabia, the criminal justice system of the U.S is not represented by a sole, all-incorporating organization. It is rather a justice system of networks at the states, federal, and special jurisdictions such as territorial and military courts. The U.S adheres to the international human rights and the death penalty is rare and only administered for convicts that have done heinous crimes (Correctional Officer Org., 2019). Women are also respected and free to travel without being accompanied by any male guardian.
The system utilized by the Saudi Arabian regime is one which only imposes fear to the citizens. For it to be effective, the kingdom should make amends, starting with allowing the people to vote for who they want to rule them. Saudi Arabia should also start adhering to international human rights laws, allowing women to be free and provide them with different opportunities to develop themselves. Additionally, criminals should be imprisoned instead of being killed by the police without even attending trials. Such amendments will effectively help the state to fight against corruption and discrimination.
- BBC. (2019). Jamal Khashoggi murder trial opens in Saudi Arabia. Retrieved August 28, 2019, from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-46747332
- Correctional Officer Org. (2019). U.S. CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. Retrieved August 29, 2019, from CORRECTIONAL OFFICER.ORG: https://www.correctionalofficer.org/us-criminal-justice-system
- Hincks, J. (2019). ‘Rahaf Is Going to Start a Revolution.’ Saudi Women Are Demanding Reforms After a Teen Fled the Country in Fear for Her Life. Retrieved August 29, 2019, from TIME: https://time.com/5499106/rahaf-saudi-arabia-guardianship-system/
- Human Rights Network (Director). (2017). Saudia Arabia Uncovered (Political Oppression) [Motion Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_wBDdthYN4
- Ott, H. (2019). U.S. lawyers “paying attention” as female Saudi activist Israa al-Ghomgham due in court. Retrieved August 29, 2019, from CBS NEWS: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/israa-al-ghomgham-saudi-arabia-court-female-activist-possible-death-penalty/