Adults Before Their Time: Children in Saudi Arabia's Criminal Justice System

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Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system lacks any codified penal law and grants prosecutors and judges broad discretion in charging and sentencing individuals for ill-defined offenses. This promotes arbitrary outcomes that contravene international standards of due process, and whose impact is magnified because Saudi Arabia retains the death penalty and other forms of physical punishment as criminal sanctions, including flogging and amputation. For children who come into conflict with the law, Saudi Arabia has juvenile courts and detention facilities, but no comprehensive legislation or framework to address how these children should be treated. This means they suffer under a system that ultimately fails to uphold the rights of all children to protection from abuse and ill-treatment and to due process, and discriminates against girls and foreign children. Children are especially at a disadvantage in a criminal justice system that takes little account of their special needs.

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