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Monday, Jul 26, 2021

Saudis pass draft law to protect whistleblowers, witnesses of crime

Saudis pass draft law to protect whistleblowers, witnesses of crime

Law aims to provide necessary protection to witnesses, victims, whistleblowers, experts
The Saudi Shura (Consultative) Council approved on Monday a draft bill on protecting witnesses, victims and whistleblowers in court cases, local media reported.

In its virtual meeting, the council’s Committee on Human Rights and Oversight submitted its report on the bill on the protection of witnesses and other secret sources in criminal cases.

The milestone law is aimed at providing security to individuals who may come under threat for giving evidence in court cases.

The law gives powers to judicial authorities to provide the necessary protection to witnesses, victims, whistleblowers, experts and members of their families from any threat including assault, revenge, intimidation and others.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia introduced a royal decree to protect whistleblowers due to rising corruption complaints.

The role of whistleblowers in assisting the Saudi government to curb illegal, unethical or dangerous activities has helped the private and government entities tremendously. It has also helped to achieve a great success in the recovery of looted money, which has boosted the economy of Saudi Arabia, said lawyer Nasreen Alissa.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) is taking extra measures in protecting whistleblowers. In 2018, the number of complaints Nazaha received increased to 15,591 from 10,402 in 2017 and 6,482 in 2016. Financial and administrative corruption cases topped the list of complaints with 74.3 per cent of registered cases.

King Salman has also ordered the provision of adequate protection to every employee who submits a complaint against financial and administrative corruption practices to ensure that they are not exposed to any persecution later on.

Alissa added whistleblowers play an essential role in not only exposing corruption but also other wrongdoing that threatens people, entities, the environment, public health, safety, financial integrity and the rule of law. However, whistleblowers often put themselves at high personal risk. They may be fired, sued, threatened and, in extreme cases, assaulted.

She added Saudis are making their way to build a transparent culture that encourages reporting, while protecting confidentiality, which will help foster trust.

The Saudi government is also awarding citizens for reporting cases of corruption, as Saudi leadership is determined and resolute in combating corruption in all its forms, all in line with the 2030 vision, which has made transparency, integrity and the fight against corruption its top priorities, Alissa said.

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