Saudi Arabia Considers Amending Laws To Be Compatible with Human Rights Treaties
By Turki Al-Saheil
Asharq Alawsat, Riyadh
July 28, 2008
Saudi Arabia is moving toward amending some laws and regulations that are not compatible with the international treaties on human rights. This takes place following the viewpoints of representatives of eight government and jurist sides, which have been working within the framework of a committee formed in accordance with the order of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Bin-Abdulaziz, agreeing with some of the conclusions of a study prepared by the National Society for Human Rights in this context.
The agenda reached by the government committee, which worked under the umbrella of the Experts Commission (the legislative arm) of the Saudi Council of Ministers, and a copy of which was seen by Asharq Al-Awsat, recommends the amendment of a collection of articles in the state laws, the activation of some laws previously issued by higher authorities, and the issuing of some new laws.
It is worth noting that the committee – which consists of the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Labor, and Social Affairs, in addition to representatives of the government’s Human Rights Commission, and the National Society for Human Rights – has expressed huge support to women. Many of the conclusions reached by the committee move in favor of abolishing measures that discriminate between men and women.
While the National Society for Human Rights records an objection to the Civil Retirement Law, and says that it includes discrimination in the entitlement to a retirement pension for the heirs of the Saudi woman married to a foreigner, the committee stresses that there is nothing that legally prevents the foreign husband and his children from being entitled to the pension of his Saudi wife.
In expressing this opinion, the committee relies on Article 25 of the Civil Retirement Law, which stipulates: “Those entitled to inherit the pensioner are: the husband or wife, the mother or father, the son or daughter, the son or daughter of the son who died during the life of the pensioner, the brother, the sister, the grandfather, and the grandmother.” In the same context, the committee adds: “Article 38 defines the situations that prevent the payment to the pensioner or the one entitled to a share of the pension; these situations include assuming a nationality other than Saudi.” The committee says that this applies only to the pensioner or anyone entitled to a share of the pension if he was Saudi, and then adopted another nationality.