King Salman’s sacking of top Saudi officials proves ‘no one is above law’

The monarch on Monday issued a royal decree ordering the dismissal of Saudi Commander of the Joint Forces in Yemen Lt. Gen. Fahad bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz. (SPA)
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Updated 01 September 2020

King Salman’s sacking of top Saudi officials proves ‘no one is above law’

  • Saudi lawyers laud monarch’s royal decree, tough stance against corruption in Kingdom

JEDDAH: Saudi lawyers on Tuesday lauded King Salman’s sacking of two high-ranking officials as part of an anti-corruption drive that proved “no one was above the law.”

The monarch on Monday issued a royal decree ordering the dismissal of Saudi Commander of the Joint Forces in Yemen Lt. Gen. Fahad bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz and Jouf Deputy Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahad bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the launch of a corruption probe.

He also placed under investigation a number of officers, civil officials, and others based on a referral from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) to look into what the decree described as “suspicious financial dealings monitored at the Ministry of Defense.”

According to the king’s decree, Nazaha “disclosed financial corruption” at the ministry linked to the military chief and the prince.

Saudi lawyer Abdullah Al-Khatib told Arab News that Nazaha would complete legal procedures against the accused.

“One of the authority’s main objectives is to provide direct communication channels with the public to receive their reports related to corrupt behaviors, verify their validity and take the necessary actions in this regard, following the approach of our wise leadership to achieve justice in society and eliminate corruption in all its forms,” he said.

Legal consultant, Majed Garoub, said: “This action is a clearer confirmation to a recent decision where governors of the Red Sea coastal cities of Umluj and Al-Wajh, the head of border security, and other local commanders, as well as officials from the Ministry of Interior have been sacked over corruption at tourism projects; most of them were referred to by their names and job titles.

“Everyone should know that only attempting to be involved in a corrupt action is a crime by itself and is punishable by law. This is to confirm that whoever plans, plots, conceals, and initiates the crime, his punishment is no less than those who commit the full crime of financial corruption, including bribery, mediation, and abuse of influence,” he added.

Garoub pointed out that the king’s decree had targeted high-ranking officials and members of the Saudi royal family, sending out a clear message that no one in the Kingdom was above the law.

“The interest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its wealth is for the public interest, the country and the citizens, and not for the corrupt to benefit from them unlawfully.

“This is to uproot corruption from Saudi thought, culture, and conscience, and to remind everyone who thinks that they can safely continue in their corruption that social status and governmental position can no longer prevail over the law,” he said.

Another lawyer, Njood Al-Qassim, noted that corruption covered crimes including bribery and trading in influence, abuse of power, illicit enrichment, manipulation, embezzlement, squandering or abuse of public money, money laundering, accounting and commercial fraud, forgery, and currency counterfeiting.

“Therefore, the national integrity and anti-corruption strategy has focused on verifying and investigating all those found guilty and those related to these violations, completing the statutory procedures, taking the necessary measures in this regard, and raising results to the higher responsible authorities.

“No one is above the law according to the policy and vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” she said.

W20 stresses importance of gender inclusivity across G20 groups

Updated 4 min 45 sec ago

W20 stresses importance of gender inclusivity across G20 groups

  • Women 20 (W20) meeting was hosted by Saudi Arabia as part of its G20 presidency

RIYADH: The second day of the virtual Women 20 (W20) meeting — hosted by Saudi Arabia as part of its G20 presidency — stressed the importance of ensuring inclusivity across the G20’s different working groups.

“The women’s empowerment team at the G20 Secretariat was established by the Saudi sherpa and… my team has engaged with working groups and discussed their topics, such as finance-track development, employment, health, education, agriculture, anti-corruption, energy, the digital economy, tourism, and trade and investments,” said Hala Altuwaijri, chair of the Women's Empowerment Team at the G20 Secretariat and secretary-general of the Family Affairs Council.

She added: “What we learned from previous presidencies is that we look at female empowerment as mainstream, as cross-cutting, and that it should not be the focus of one group only. In other words, every working group should have the empowerment of women as a priority... this is what the Saudi presidency has committed to.”

Addressing gender in the workplace, Libby Lyons, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in Australia, said that Australia will close the equality gap at all management levels within the next 20 years.

“Forty-three percent (of) all promotions went to women last year in the private sector in Australia. The problem persists, however, for women accessing leadership positions such as CEOs and board members,” she said in a session titled “G20 Policies: Catalyzing Women's Economic Empowerment.”

Lyons’ agency has been collecting data annually for more than seven years from every organization in the private sector with more than 100 employees, giving it a clear picture of what is happening in terms of gender equality. “We must collect standardized data to track what we are doing and assess our actions,” she noted.

She said that in Australia, private enterprise is driving this change, facilitated by the government, which is a unique model. “I think that it is a lesson we can all learn,” Lyons said.

Discussing the most notable G20 commitments over the last five years, Wendy Teleki, head of We-Fi Secretariat, said that We-Fi was founded in 2017 at the G20 Hamburg Summit focused on supporting entrepreneurs around the world.

Since then, it has allocated $300 million in funds through its partners to programs that are ultimately expected to benefit more than 130,000 women, she added.

This year, We-Fi has allocated an additional $50 million and Teleki said that another $50 million “will be allocated to the issues of technology, early-stage financing, and COVID-19 relief response to empower women entrepreneurs and help them in their reliance on technology.”

Addressing the private-sector alliance, empowerment and progression of women’s economic representation, which was established last year in Japan as a means to advocate the advancement of women in the private sector, Tomoko Hayashi, director-general of the Gender Equality Bureau in the Cabinet Office said: “The Empower project…aims to increase the number of women with access to leadership positions. Also it devises actionable plans to increase the digital literacy of women in developing countries.”

She added: “COVID-19 has greatly impacted women, including (by) increasing rates of unemployment and domestic violence. At the same time, it created a great opportunity for women to change the rules of the game.”