Change Has Come to the Judicial System [Archives:1998/25/Viewpoint]

June 22 1998

First and foremost, the country got a new attorney-general. Mr. Abdullah Al-Olofi got the new job, which is so critical to the proper evolution and growth of the judicial system. Mr. Al-Olofi is a highly respected person who is known for his upright character.
Then the country got Qadhi Zaid Bin Zaid Al-Jamrah as Chairman of the Supreme Court, and Qadhi Ali Nasser Salem as Vice Chairman. Both gentlemen are noted for their independence and integrity.
Then the country got Qadhi Mohammed Rashid Abdul-Mowla as Chairman of the Judicial Investigative Board at the Ministry of Justice. This board is the reference point for all judges. It investigates any deviant behavior on the part of the judges.
These positive developments are credited mainly to Mr. Ismail Ahmed Al-Wazir, Minister of Justice, who is working hard to introduce reform and change in the country’s judiciary. I would like to salute him for his efforts, and I would like to hail President Ali Abdullah Saleh for going along with the required changes.
The general public has received the news with much relief and appreciation. People in qat sessions and on the streets speak favorably of the new appointments.
BUT, is it enough? The answer is NO!
I would like to use this occasion to urge Minister Al-Wazir to continue with his efforts to weed out the bad people, and to push ahead with bolder reforms in the judicial system. Many of the judges and attorneys feel so immune that they themselves are partly responsible for breaking the law. Therefore, it is important that the reforms now continue to address the district judges and attorneys.
There is another issue to which the Minister of Justice needs to address: the issue of torture. In many investigation departments and prisons, there is a lot of violation of the human rights of the accused and prisoners. This is a tragic problem which our society cannot ignore.
Finally, the Judicial Investigative Board must be given the tools and facilities to do its job. It will give much hope if the public sees that bad judges and attorneys are put on trial and held accountable for their wrong deeds. Such a development will also rehabilitate the image of the judicial system, which is badly tarnished.
At the end, however, I would like to recognize this positive change in our judicial system, and would like to express support for this new development.
Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz AL-SAQQAF
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher