XI. Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution

In 1989 the government created the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecutions, although the Bureau was not fully established until 1995.451 The law, which declared that Bureau members have “full independence” and are subject only to the “provisions of the Islamic Sharia and statutory laws,”452 nevertheless located the prosecution service administratively within the Ministry of Interior.453 The Bureau’s lack of actual independence becomes apparent upon reading the law governing it. The minister of interior nominates the chief prosecutor.454 He chooses and appoints members of the Bureau Management Committee.455 He has the right to order this Committee to initiate investigations.456 In addition, he has the power to inflict disciplinary measures on the Bureau’s members.457

Practice bears out the Bureau’s lack of independence. A recent media report quotes Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abd al-‘Aziz as ordering the prosecution service to investigate certain cases previously dealt with by the CPVPV.458 The administrative location of the Bureau in the Ministry of Interior—rather than the Ministry of Justice—may have contributed to what the Bureau’s head said was an absence of proceedings against officials for their wrongdoing.459 According to the UN Guidelines on the Roles of Prosecutors, “Prosecutors shall give due attention to the prosecution of crimes committed by public officials, particularly corruption, abuse of power, grave violations of human rights and other crimes recognized by international law and, where authorized by law or consistent with local practice, the investigation of such offences.”460 While Saudi public prosecutors only rarely bring criminal charges against officials, such as in two recent cases involving deaths in CPVPV custody, a specialized prosecution service within the Board of Grievances (see below) has prosecuted officials for abuse of power, one of the crimes over which the board has jurisdiction (see Appendix).461

451 Human Rights Watch interview with former prosecutor (name withheld), New York, May 25, 2007.

452 Law of Investigation Authority and Prosecution General, art. 5. In this report, we refer to the agency as the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecutions.

453 Human Rights Watch interview with Shaikh Muhammad Al Abdullah, November 29, 2006.

454 Law of Investigation Authority and Prosecution General, art. 10.

455 Ibid., arts. 4(a) and 4(b),.

456 Ibid., art. 4(c)(2).

457 Ibid., art. 26.

458 “Prince Nayef Directs Bureau of General Investigation and Prosecution to Begin Investigations in Molestation Cases,” Al-Sharq al-Awsat , May 25, 2006,قضايا%20المعاكسات%20وما%20شابهها&state=true (accessed March 15, 2007).

459 “There was, for example, one case where a person [in prison] said that he was mistreated and the evidence was cigarette burns on his chest and streaks on his back, and a committee investigated that, and the forensic doctor found that they were self-inflicted. We spoke to the whole [prison] ward. [Human Rights Watch asks: We have many reports of abuse in prison, why do you only have one case of an investigation?] Maybe something happens but we have not proved it. Maybe the investigation took place at the branch level and was not reported to us here at the head quarters.” Human Rights Watch interview with Ibrahim Juhaiman, head of the prosecutions department within the Commission for Investigations and Public Prosecutions, Riyadh, November 29, 2006. “We receive about 800 complaints of abuse in a six-month period.” Human Rights Watch interview with Hamad Jarba, head of the prison inspection department within the Commission for Investigations and Public Prosecutions, Riyadh, November 29, 2006. In response to further questioning from Human Rights Watch it emerged that there was no system for deciding which complaints a branch level prosecution office should refer to the headquarters of the prosecution service.

460 Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, guideline 15.

461 Arab News reported that “the Board of Grievances in al-Juf sentenced five officers of the anti-drug department to 18 months after being convicted of misusing their power and allegedly beating to death a Saudi citizen.” P.K. Abdul Ghafour, “Security Officers Warned Against Abuse of Power,” Arab News, March 14, 2007.