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Saudi Arabia: New Regulation on Protection Against Abuse

(Sept. 10, 2013) On August 26, 2013, the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia approved the Regulation to Protect Against Abuse, which has the force of law. A copy of the Regulation, in Arabic, is available on the website of the National Society of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

Under article 1 of this Regulation, abuse is defined as any act of bodily, psychological, or sexual mistreatment committed by a person against another person over whom he or she has guardianship or another type of legal authority. The definition includes any failure to provide another person with legally required necessities.

Article 13 sets a criminal penalty of between one month and one year of imprisonment and/or a fine of between 5,000 and 50,000 Saudi Riyals (about US$1,333-13,330) for anyone who commits an act of abuse as defined in article 1, unless a higher penalty is provided for under Sharia’ law or other regulations in force.

However, article 11 implies that not all acts of abuse as defined under article 1 will constitute criminal offenses. Article 11 gives an undefined “competent authority” within the Saudi legal system the power to determine which acts of abuse constitute criminal offenses by stipulating “if the competent authority determines that the act of abuse constitutes a crime, it shall refer the matter to the competent law enforcement authority to take the necessary measures.”