Saudi lawyer on dock for exposing court travesties

Posted in Broader Middle East | 06-Dec-07 | Author: Judith Apter Klinghoffer| Source: History News Network

The Saudi Shariah based justice system is nothing short of a nightmare. Moreover, it is an aggressively exported nightmare as demonstrated in northern Nigeria.

Today, a Saudi lawyer is facing the court for the crime of representing clientswho caught the attention of the media. Apparently, the court's preferred way of dealing with the press is to try to cut off its sources of information.

The disciplinary committee at the Ministry of Justice in Riyadh is scheduled to conduct a closed-door hearing today involving the lawyer in the controversial “Qatif Girl” rape trial.

A three-member panel consisting of two judges and a lawyer will review a complaint by a state prosecutor that accuses Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem, a 36-year-old Saudi lawyer and human rights activist, of “misrepresenting legal subjects through the media to confuse the judicial establishment’s image and thus harming the country,” according to a copy of the summons obtained by Arab News.

The summons also refers to Al-Lahem’s involvement representing a forcefully divorced couple, another much-publicized case. The charge stems from Al-Lahem’s statement that the judges’ verdict in forcefully divorcing the couple at the behest of the woman’s half-brothers “would provoke tribalism and harm national unity.” Al-Lahem’s license was revoked on Nov. 14 at the Qatif General Court while Al-Lahem was representing his 20-year-old client who was kidnapped and gang-raped by seven men last year.

One of the clients is the 'Qatif Girl,’ the one who was first gang raped and then sesntenced to 200 lashes. The second "wrong" client is Fatima:

For those who do not know, Fatima and Mansour(see picture with their daughter) were forcibly divorced by a court ruling at her brothers’ request in July 2005. The couple had a happy life together and had no desire to divorce. After being forced to divorce, Fatima chose not to return to live with her brothers; under those circumstances, she had no choice but to go with her children to a women’s shelter. The latest news is that she is still living in the shelter with her children; she cannot leave because her brothers won’t allow it. She is denied visitors; a friend tried to visit and take toys for the children but she was prevented by the shelter authorities from seeing Fatima and the children.

Abeer Mishkhas reports of yet another case "harming the image" of Saudi Arabia and her courts:

The latest involved a groom being sentenced to lashing and prison for entering the wedding hall with his bride.

For those who are unfamiliar with the customs of Saudi weddings, the couple march together into the women’s only area where photographs are taken and then, in most cases, the groom then leaves and the bride remains with her female relatives and friends.

In this case, however, a woman was offended that the groom had come into the women’s area and complained to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. The commission called the groom the next day to inform him of his crime. He was subsequently sentenced on the basis of a complaint from one woman without having a chance to tell his side of the story. The accusation was made and he was sentenced. That was that.

Waiting to come before the court is Parents Chain Young Woman at Makkah Home

Authorities in Makkah are investigating the case of a 19-year-old girl who left her home yesterday and climbed into a taxi with her feet in chains.

The driver of the taxi reported the girl to police after noticing the chains.

On questioning, the girl told the police that she was heading to meet her boyfriend, who had proposed to marry her but had been refused by her family.

The case has been transferred to the General Prosecution and Investigation Committee.

Will Saudi lawyers ever follow in the footsteps of the Pakistani ones? Will American lawyers use their considerable clout and support them?

At the moment, their crime of silence is deafening. The Saudis can and must be shamed