Given that the newly established Saudi criminal procedural system was influenced by the French criminal procedural system, one of the most advanced and experienced systems in the world, this paper has sought to identify the similarities and differences between the two systems within the context of the inquiry and preliminary investigation stages. Particularly, the study focused on the criminal procedures, the competent authority responsible for exercising them and the rights of the accused. The aim of this paper is to assess the ability of the two systems to achieve the twin goals of the criminal procedural system of protecting the public interest, which requires providing the competent authorities with the powers that enable them to discover and investigate crimes effectively, and to protect the rights of individuals, which requires providing the accused with sufficient safeguards to protect them from being wrongfully convicted or ill-treated, and to make proposals that could be adopted by the Saudi criminal procedural system to enhance its ability to achieve its objectives.
Although this study has found that the two systems under comparison can be classified as adopting (or at least influenced by) the inquisitorial system, there are substantial differences between them; especially with regard to the importance of the inquiry stage, the nature of the competent authority to investigate and prosecute criminal offences, and the rights of the accused in the inquiry and preliminary investigation stages. For the French system it is important that the authorities that exercise the inquiry procedures are judicial or under judicial supervision, and relies heavily on the inquiry stage as 96% of the cases referred to the courts are not investigated, which made the French legislature consider seriously the abolition of the investigating judge's position, which lost a large part of its importance, and is based on the idea of the separation between the investigation and prosecution functions, and provides the accused with extensive rights in the face of the authorities responsible for the inquiry and preliminary investigation. On the other hand, all the authorities responsible for the inquiry and preliminary investigation in Saudi Arabia are neither judicial nor subject to judicial supervision, and the investigation authority investigates practically most crimes, regardless of their seriousness or importance, and the system is based on the idea of combining the investigation and prosecution functions, and the accused has limited rights in the inquiry and preliminary investigation stages, especially in comparison with the French system.
Thus, the study concluded that the Saudi criminal procedural system does not strike in its current form a proper balance between the public interest in the detection and investigation of crimes, and the interest of the accused in the protection of his rights, as well as it cannot be described in its present form as effective in achieving its objectives in detecting and investigating offences, and proposed a set of recommendations that could be adopted by the Saudi criminal procedural system to enhance its ability to achieve its objectives.
"Criminal Procedures in the Inquiry and Preliminary Investigation Stages in the Saudi and French Systems: A Comparative Study,"
Journal Sharia and Law: Vol. 2016:
67, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uaeu.ac.ae/sharia_and_law/vol2016/iss67/4