Saudi Shoura Council approves new law against harassment

Anyone convicted under the new law faces up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to SR300,000 (around $80,000). (AFP)
Updated 29 May 2018
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Saudi Shoura Council approves new law against harassment

  • Any comprehensive society needs a law such as this one to protect the rights of all citizens
  • Anyone who witnessed an instance of harassment should be required by law to report it

JEDDAH: A new draft legislation outlawing harassment was approved on Monday by the Saudi Shoura Council.
Anyone convicted under the new law faces up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to SR300,000 (around $80,000).
The new draft law “aims to combat the crime of harassment, prevent its occurrence, punish the perpetrators and protect the victims, in order to preserve the privacy, dignity and personal freedom of individuals guaranteed by the provisions of Islamic law and regulations.”
“I believe this law to be of extreme importance,” Shoura member Hoda Al-Helaissi told Arab News.
While the law protects people of both sexes, it has particular relevance to the end next month of the de facto ban on female drivers, Al-Helaissi said.  
“The timing is important. Driving, although probably the main reason for it, is not the only one.
“Any comprehensive society needs a law such as this one to protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of gender.”
There would be amendments to the law in the near future “to make it more complete and up to the standards required by our society,” she said.
Latifah Al-Shaalan, another Shoura member, said on social media: “The anti-harassment law approved today is a very important addition to the history of the Kingdom’s law and regulation, which fills a large legislative vacuum. It is a deterrent law compared to a number of other laws in other countries.”
Al-Shaalan said she had proposed a number of additional articles for the law regarding the protection of witnesses and of the identity of those who report such incidents, the provision of social and psychological support to the victims of harassment, and raising awareness of the provisions of the law. Anyone who witnessed an instance of harassment should be required by law to report it, she said.
Leading lawyer Dimah Alsharif told Arab News the new law was “a qualitative leap” in combating sexual harassment in the Kingdom. “Not only for women, but for all genders of different ages and in different situations,” she said.
The end of the driving ban gave attention to the issue of potential harassment “a boost,” she said, and the new law would help by “imposing clear and specific clauses to match the driving aspects and to assure people’s freedom in practicing this right.”
Rawan Al-Jabri, 26, a Saudi national, said: “This is not a privilege as much as a basic right for all women. Taking disciplinary measures against those who harass women, and even men, will definitely lower the harassment rate and hopefully put an end to it all together.”
Speaking as a woman who had faced harassment, Al-Jabri said she was thrilled by the new law. “With women starting to drive, this law is extremely necessary.”
In September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of the decades-long ban on women driving, which will be effective from June 24.


Al-Jubeir: Saudi-led coalition ‘working with UN to end Yemen conflict’

The Houthis should engage in the political process and respond to the will of the international community to end the war and end the coup against the legitimate government, said Saudi Arabia's foreign minister. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Al-Jubeir: Saudi-led coalition ‘working with UN to end Yemen conflict’

  • Since day one, we said that the solution… is a political solution, says Saudi FM
  • Al-Jubeir: Saudi Arabia is the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Yemen, providing more than $13 billion since the start of the conflict

RIYADH: The Saudi-led coalition is working with UN envoy Martin Griffith to reach a political solution to the conflict in Yemen based on UN Security Council resolution 2216, the Gulf Initiative and the outcomes of Yemeni national dialogue, the Saudi foreign minister said on Thursday. 

“Since day one, we said that the solution… is a political solution, and the solution should lead to the restoration of legitimacy in Yemen,” said Adel Al-Jubeir.

“We support a peaceful solution in Yemen. We support the efforts of the UN envoy for the Yemeni cause,” he added.

“We are committed to providing all humanitarian support to our brothers there. We are also working on the post-war reconstruction of Yemen.” The Kingdom supports the envoy’s efforts to hold negotiations at the end of November, added Al-Jubeir.

Saudi Arabia is the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Yemen, providing more than $13 billion since the start of the conflict, he said.

In contrast, Houthi militias are imposing restrictions on Yemeni cities and villages, leading to starvation, he added. 

They are also seizing humanitarian aid and preventing Yemenis from getting cholera vaccinations, Al-Jubeir said. 

The Houthis fire ballistic missiles indiscriminately at Saudi Arabia, use children as fighters and plant mines across Yemen, he added. 

The Houthis should engage in the political process and respond to the will of the international community to end the war and end the coup against the legitimate government, he said.

Saudi Arabia did not want the conflict in Yemen; it was imposed on the Kingdom, Al-Jubeir added. 

Saudi Arabia worked with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states to develop the Gulf Initiative. 

This led to a transition from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the internationally recognized government headed by current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Kingdom also worked to develop Yemeni national dialogue that led to a Yemeni vision regarding the country’s future.

A new Yemeni constitution was about to be drafted when the Houthis seized much of the country, including the capital. 

Yemen’s legitimate government requested support, and the Saudi-led coalition responded under Article 51 of the UN Charter.