Patnubay shares this information to achieve the following objectives:
1. To educate Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) about their rights and empower them on how to fight for those rights as per the existing laws and procedures.
2. To educate OFWs on sharing accurate reference to the media and non-government organizations (NGOs). Hence, refraining from providing false, misleading and inaccurate information that could muddle the issue.
3. To educate the officers of the Philippine embassy and consulate about the laws and procedures of Saudi Arabia before the Philippine government deploys them to Saudi Arabia.
Detailed Overview of Procedure for Police Cases in Saudi Arabia
Drafted by: Tasio Espiritu
- a 10-page Excerpt from “Handbook for Patnubay Advocacy Partners and Action Officers (a total 70 pages)”
- for Patnubay.com (2009)
- for Migrant Forum Asia (MFA)”s Training on Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) for Migrant Workers’ Cases in Saudi Arabia (2010)
Examples of Offences with major punishments
- Qatl (Murder) Cases
- Drug Cases (trafficking, pushing, using)
- Rape (In most cases, the migrant worker is victim)
- Liquor selling
Examples of Offences with lesser punishment
- Immorality, Homosexuality and Prostitution
- Illegal Assembly (Mixing or Ikhtilat )
- Liquor consumption
- Absconding or Harboring of Runaway
- Forgery (with private right)
- Embezzlement (with private right)
Three (3) Types of Punishments under the Sharia law
- Hudud – these are punishments that are fixed by the Quran and Sunna. This is commonly called “Crimes committed against God”. These cannot be changed by any judicial authority.
- Qisas – This is called retaliation or retribution to personal crimes like murder and assault. Like Hudud, Qisas is also part of the Sharia. The aggrieved family may ask for RETALIATION or diya (blood money). The court has no initial sentencing role but they may have a residual role in some circumstances.
- Ta’zir – is equivalent to common law sentencing. Every accused person is judged on an individual basis, according to the seriousness of the crime and the repentance of the accused. There is a list of crimes and their corresponding punishments.
Note: Qisas and Tazir are still subject for appeal or reconsideration in the Governor’s Office.
Hudud punishments prescribed for specific offences
- Hirabah – (armed robbery, rape, bodily harm, assault) the punishment is death and thereafter crucifixion if the victim is killed and his or another person’s property is taken. Qat al-tariq (Highway Robbery) is also considered as hirabah.
- Syurb (Liquor consumption or selling) – Intoxicated or not it is punishable with Jail terms and not less than 40 lashes for first offenders, 80 lashes and imprisonment for repeat offenders.
- Sariqah (theft) – is punishable by the amputation of the offender’s right hand. For a second offender, amputation of his left leg and for a third and subsequent offender imprisonment as deemed fit by the court. (note: since we started our advocacy ten years ago, this punishment has not been applied to any Filipino Offenders. Punishment is only Jail terms and lashes and the payment to the victim equivalent to stolen amount)
- Zina (illicit intercourse) – for unmarried person 100 lashes and 1 year imprisonment; while (adultery) for married person punishment is stoning to death. (note: since we started our advocacy ten years ago, stoning to death is not applied to any Filipino Offender of zina. In fact, “forbidden love” cases are the most common offences done by Filipinos.)
- Liwat (Sodomy / Homosexuality) – punishment is like that of zina. (stoning to death is also not applied to Filipino offenders)
- Qadhf – Slander.False Accusation of zina the punishment is 80 lashes. false accusation against a person for rape is also considered Qadhf
- Riddah or Irtidad (blasphemy or apostasy) The punishment for an unrepentant offender is death. (Note: We have a blasphemy case for a Filipino in Gurayat, the Embassy filed for an appeal and the sentenced was lowered to 10 years without capital punishment. The accused converted to Islam while in Jail and asked for repentance for his actions before)
- Although Hudud is said to be fixed and cannot be changed by any judicial authority; the punishment applied to any of the (hudud) offences mentioned earlier is either Ta’zir or Qisas.
- The Ta’zir can be applied to hudud offenses when the burden of proof required for hudud punishments cannot be achieved due to its strict nature. No Ta’zir punishment can exceed that of a Hudud.
- The Qisas can be applied in exchanged for Hudud when there is an aggrieved party, it is the victim or the victim’s family.
- The Ta’zir can be applied in exchanged for Qisas when the aggrieved party refused to file the private right of action. In most cases, the judge will render his decision based on the recommendation from the prosecutor’s office.
- Filipino offenders are not penalized in Hudud, because the Philippines has a population that are not predominantly Muslim. We are only handling cases that involve Filipinos. Thus we do not know if there are other nationalities who are punished under hudud.
Qisas (Retaliation) Punishment Overview
There are always two (2) aspects of the case in Qisas punishment
- Public Action – where the accused will be tried and punished according to his offences done against the law and the society. The mandatory punishments are Jail Terms and Lashes.
- Private Right of Action – where the victim or his family has always the right to decide whether to pursue with the Qisas punishment or to forgive. The punishments are Jail Terms with Lashes and / or Death.
Example of Offences with Qisas punishment
- Qatl – the term in Arabic used in Sharia law to refer to the crime of murder or homicide.
- Real Rape – can be categorized as Hudud but since there is a victim who has private right then we categorize this as Qisas
Qatl (Murder) cases Four common Categories
- Qatl Al-Amd (intentional murder) – punishments are Jail Terms, Lashes and Death. The accused can only be spared from the death penalty through “tanazul” (forgiveness) from the victim’s family. The victim’s family also has the right to ask for diyaa (blood money) from the accused.
- Qatl Al-Shabih Al-Amd (non-intentional murder) – punishments are Jail Terms, Lashes and Death. The accused can only be spared from the death penalty through “tanazul” (forgiveness) from the victim’s family. The victim’s family has the right to ask for diyaa (blood money) from the accused.
- Qatl Al-Khata (accident) – without death penalty but the victim’s family has the right to ask for diyaa (blood money) from the accused. The accused will stay in Jail until the payment of the diyaa is received by the victim’s family
- Qatl al-Nafs (Suicide or self murder) – Not a Qisas but a Hudud. Attempted or unsuccessful suicide is punishable by Jail Terms and Lashes
Rape Cases Categories
- Real Rape cases – should come in the provisions of Hirabah for inflicting bodily harms and assault. Punishments should be death under hudud but since there is a victim, this falls under Qisas. In Qisas, the accused can only be spared from the death penalty through “tanazul” (forgiveness) from the victim or the victim’s family. The victim or his family has the right to ask for diyaa (blood money) from the accused.
- Rape with Consent – are classified as zina (illicit affair). Real rape victim might fall into this category due to the following failures; late filing of complaints, absence of medical report and signs of struggles. The complainant (victim) is guilty of zina if it is proven that she has a relationship with the rapist. There is no private right or blood money to be received by the victim.
- False Rape Accusations – not a qisas but a hudud, and the false accuser is punishable by Jail Terms and 80 or more lashes. Many women always use the excuse “RAPED by their employer” as their alibi if they want to go home after many years of being undocumented. They prefer to tell their stories to the media rather than to the police or to their embassies. In most cases they will be repatriated with children they bore from their boyfriends. Sad to say, most of them were married to another men before. See Also Reactions to Various Rape Stories in KSA that were published in thenews
Taz’ir Punishments Overview
Taz’ir – is equivalent to common law sentencing. Every accused person is judged on an individual basis, according to the seriousness of the crime and the repentance of the accused. There is a list of crimes and their corresponding punishments. The Tazir can be applied to hudud offenses when the burden of proof required for hudud punishments cannot be achieved due to its strict nature. No Ta’zir punishment can exceed that of a Hudud.
- Liquor consumption or selling
- Immorality, Adultery and Prostitution
- Sodomy or Homosexuality
- Drug Cases – ( punishment is death for trafficking, Jail terms and Lashes for selling and using)
- Embezzlement – (plus private right of action)
- Forgery – (plus private right of action)
The Ta’zir can be applied in exchanged for Qisas when the aggrieved party refused to file the private right of action. In most cases, the judge will render his decision based on the recommendation from the prosecutor’s office. For example in a murder case, if the aggrieved family will not file the private right of actions, the judge will decide whether to pursue with the capital punishment or not.
Police Case Number Coding
Each type of case has its own numbering scheme. The numbering format looks like this
XXX – Code / XXXX or Code / XXXX.
Case number 454 –1/4911, the code is 1 which is for murder.
or Case number 1/4911, the code is 1 which is for murder
The example case numbers are the same but it is more appropriate to record all the numbers like the first example.
If the accused is acquitted he can file for compensation. It will be hard to locate his files if all the case numbers are not recorded.
Case Number Code ( for common cases that involve OFWs) :
1 – Qatl (Murder, suicide or a life lost by accident)
2 – Theft
3 – Love Cases
4 – Drugs
5 – Pork Selling, Whiskey
6 – Money
7 – Embezzlement
Criminal Case Procedure
A brief summary of the Law of Criminal Procedure of Saudi Arabia starting from arrest. To view the complete procedure click here
2. Police Station Investigation / Jail
Here you can request for an interpreter or translator from your embassy. The accused has the right not to sign an Arabic document written in a language that you can not understand. The accused may request for an English translation before he decides to sign the document or not. The accused is detained in the police station jail.
Note: Police Jail is open for visitation daily. Preferable time 4pm to 6pm.
3. Prosecutor’s Office and Criminal Investigation
Here, another investigation/interrogation the accused has to undergo. The accused has the right to request for translator. This is also the department in-charged of the decision whether to forward the case to the Criminal Court.
This department will recommend the punishments to be applied to the accused.
4. Kafala (Temporary Release)
For minor offences and when advised by the prosecutors office, the accused may avail the kafala. All he has to do is look for a Saudi national to be his kafil (sponsor for temporary release). The kafil could be his employer or a Saudi friend.
There is no amount to be paid for kafala in Saudi Arabia but just a kafil. The kafil will be contacted to submit the accused for court hearings or for detention. The worker may work while on temporary release. For more information you may read our article “The Importance of Kafala”, click here
If the accused is not allowed for Kafala or if the accused is not able to look for a kafil (sponsor); the accused will stay in the Police station jail for thirty (30) days before he will be transferred to a bigger Prison.
- Malaz Prison and Ha’ir Prison in Riyadh – for offenders of Central Region
- Briman Prison in Jeddah for offenders of West Region
- and in Dammam Prison for offenders of Eastern Province.
Anyone with a valid Iqama can visit a prisoner. The visitor must first apply for an authorization card from the prison authorities. He must specify the inmate’s name and cell location in the application form. The visitation schedules (per cell location) are displayed in the Prison’s bulletin board or the visitor may ask the schedules from the prison desk officer.
6. Court Hearings
The official language used for all court hearings in Saudi Arabia is Arabic. The court will provide an interpreter to a non-Arabic-speaking accused if he has no lawyer or a translator from his embassy.
Most questions that will be asked by the judge to the accused are based on the investigation reports from the Police Station and the from the Prosecutor’s office.
7.First Instance (lower) Courts
Summary Courts – composed of one or more judges who handle cases of MINOR offences under hudud and taz’ir. Here they have their own interpreters but the accused can request his embassy for interpreter. The accused also has the right hire a lawyer.
General Courts – composed of one or more judges who handle Qisas for cases like Qatl and rape. They also handle MAJOR offences under hudud and taz’ir. Example of these offences are Drug Cases, Blasphemy, etc. They also have their own interpreters but the accused
can request his embassy for interpreter. The accused also has the right hire a lawyer.
Note: if the accused wants to hire a lawyer, he must issue a wakala (Special Power of Attorney) stating that the lawyer will be his wakil (the person granted with the SPA). For more information about wakala, you may read our article “The Importance of Wakala”, click here
Board of Grievance (aka Grievance Court, Diwan Al-Mazalem) – This is the court where the case of a resident vs. a government entity is heard. e.g. Cases related to Civil Service and Pension Laws. Claims for Moral and Material Compensations for illegally detained and acquitted persons are also filed here.
Criminal Offenders of forgery and bribery are heard in Diwan court. Even if the complainant is a private entity. Please check the Anti-forgery Law click here
8. Court Decision
After the judge renders his decision, he will ask both the plaintiff and the accused if they agree with the decision of the court. If they agree then they will be asked to sign the court decision. Otherwise, they are advised to file for an appeal once they receive copy of the court decision (sac)
The copy of the court decision will be received by the plaintiff and the accused within 10 days after the last court hearing.
The accused or the plaintiff has the right to file for an appeal if he doesn’t want to accept the judgment or punishments of the lower court (Summary Court, General Court or Board of Grievance).
The accused must file for an appeal within 30 days after he receives the court decision (sac).
10. Courts of Appeals (Courts of Cassation)
The primary function is to review the appeal by the accused or by the victim or by the public prosecutor. It is also their obligation to review the decision of the General or of the Summary Courts even without a party filing an appeal; especially for offences which are punishable by death. They usually review cases without hearings, unless needed. The accused or the victim need not to appear before the court. (note the Board of Grievance “Diwan Al-Mazalem” has different appellate court)
Currently there are two (2) court of appeals in Saudi Arabia, One in Riyadh which hears the appeals from lower courts in Central and Eastern provinces and one in Makkah which hears the appeals from lower courts in Western provinces.
The Court of Appeals is composed of a chief judge and a sufficient number of senior judges.
11. Supreme Judicial Council (for Major Offences)
The highest authority in Saudi Arabia’s Judicial System. The Council reviews judgments involving death sentences and other major crimes. The Supreme Judicial Council is composed of eleven members.
FYI: Judicial System Reforms
On October 1, 2007, HRH King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud issued a Royal Decree Judicial System Reforms. This also includes reforms for Labor Courts. There will be a transition period of two to three years in which the new judicial system will be fully implemented (hopefully in October 1, 2010).
12. Serving the Sentence (Guilty)
If the decision of the lower court for the accused is guilty and he accepts it then he will serve his sentence in Prison (Malaz, Dammam or Briman). If the accused is temporarily released thru kafala and had filed an appeal; he or the kafil will be informed by the police that the accused is guilty with punishment of Jail Terms. The Kafil will bring the accused to the Police station, he will be brought to Prison where he will serve his sentence.
Private Right of Actions – Even if the punishments for public actions are already served, an accused can’t be released from prison unless
- The aggrieved party grants forgiveness. In most cases, the aggrieved party will only forgive once their claims for private right are settled.
- The aggrieved party waives the private right and forgives.
Payments for debt, for moral and for material damages and for “diyya” (blood money) are common examples of private right claims.
13. Acquittal / Release
If the accused is temporarily released thru kafala and the court acquits him of all charges then he will wait for the closure of the case.
If the accused is detained but the court acquits him then he has the right to file for compensation in Diwan as per Article 210 of the Law of Criminal Procedure.
The accused must be released if he has served his Jail Terms. If he is detained more than his Jail Terms then he has the right to file for compensation in Diwan as per Article 217 of the Law of Criminal Procedure.
14. Governor’s Office Clearance – for Closure of the Case
15. Lower Courts (Summary Court, General Court or Diwan Al-Mazalem) – for filing and closure of the case
16. Police station – for filing and closure of the case
17. Deportation (for Guilty)
18. Back to work (for Acquittal)
– Drafted by Tasio Espiritu for Patnubay Online / Patnubay.org
- If you want to follow-up a case of an accused you must have a wakala (SPA) granting you to follow-up the case. Always start from the Police Station.
- Tools in Handling Police Cases : Use Existing Laws of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Basic Law of Saudi Arabia
- The Law of Judiciary
- Law of Criminal Procedure of Saudi Arabia
- Human Rights in Judicial System of saudi Arabia
- The Law of Procedure before Shariah Court
- Narcotics Crime Penalties
- Anti-Forgery Law
Seek Assistance / Continuous Follow-up with the following
- Police Station
- Philippine Embassy
- NGOs or Private Human Rights Group
Bring/Send your Request for Assistance letter to the following Saudi Government Agencies if there is a violation to the rights of the accused, re torture, the punishment imposed is harsh, detained more than his Jail term.
- Governor’s Office of the Region – The office of the governor has the authority on all the government agencies within his region. These agencies are Saudi Labor Office, Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Health, Police Stations, Prisons etc.
- Human Rights Commission – write to HRC President Dr. Bander Al Abian
Patnubay Case Studies, Analysis and Resolutions
- Reactions to Various Rape Stories in KSA that were published in thenews
- Qatl Cases Analysis.pdf
- Jamil Mabanto Case Backgrounder
- Kafala Letter
- Wakala Letter
- Qatl Cases Analysis Part II (Joselito Zapanta)
- Patnubay – We Are Advocates for Change
- As If We Are Not Part of the Problem
- Qatl Cases Analysis Part III – (Jizan Murder Case)
- OFW Warren at ang panggamit ng Migrante sa kanya
- Patnubay Online Police Cases Review for 2013
- Mga Babala at Paalala Para sa mga OFWs sa KSA