Human rights and the trial of the accused : a legal comparative study between the judicial system in Saudi Arabia and the standards required by the European Convention on Human Rights
Irrespective of its Western origin, the idea of human rights is widely acknowledged. Following the establishment of the United Nations, the movement of human rights has been dramatically extended from its local boundaries to a more global domain by means of international treaties, declarations, conferences etc by which a universal standard of human rights has been established. However, a sharp contrast has occurred between advocates of relativism of human rights and supporters of the universalism of human rights as a result of attempts to impose a single interpretation to human rights instruments that is the western liberal tradition. After the collapse of the communist regimes, the conflict about the universalism of human rights takes place between developed and less developed Countries, or between Islam, and the West. Therefore, this thesis explores the extent to which human rights jurisprudence can accommodate different cultures. The thesis concerns particular aspects of the subject of human rights. It compares rights provided for the accused person during trial in the judicial system in Saudi Arabia with those embodied in the European Convention on Human Rights. It examines in particular; the presumption of innocence, the principle of legality, legal assistance, an interpreter, adequatg time and facilities, a speedy trial, prompt information of the accusation, trial in the presence of the accused, the accused's right to defend himself in person, equality of arms, the calling and cross-examination of witnesses, the right not to be compelled to confess guilt, an independent and an impartial trial, an open court, a reasoned judgment, an appeal against conviction or punishment, double jeopardy, and compensation for miscarriage of justice. The thesis shows that (a) generally speaking, the judicial system in Saudi Arabia provides the accused during the trial stage with similar rights to those called upon by the European Convention although it sometimes uses different terminology. (b) Suggestions to readdress deficiencies in the Saudi judicial system can be adopted without violating Islamic law. (c) The Saudi judicial system in certain areas provides the same rights with a higher standard of application. (d) Due to the fact that it is based on the religion of Islam, the Saudi judicial system provides the accused with rights totally unknown to the European Convention.