Speech for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the meeting of the sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Convention against Corruption
St. Petersburg, 2-6 November 2015
Your Excellency, chairman of the conference, Minister of Justice in the Russian Federation
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Please allow me first to offer my condolences to the Russian Federation and to the people of Russia, and to the families of the victims of the plane crash.
I wish to congratulate you Mr. president on choosing you to be the president of this conference.I am pleased to extend my thanks to the Russian Federation for hosting this conference and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the welcome and hospitality shown to us. I would like also to thank the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for their efforts towards States Parties to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
It is a pleasure to be here amongst you, representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in attending this important conference, which is considered as the most important international forum on anti-corruption, to improve the ability of States Parties in implementing the UNCAC articles.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always been and still is doing what it takes to prevent and fight corruption nationally and internationally. when Saudi Arabia ratified the Convention it was looking forward to achieve more constructive cooperation between the international community in fighting this odious phenomenon.
The kingdom has worked to pass laws aiming to prevent and combat corruption since more than 70 years. In 1940 the collection of state funds system was released, including organizing tax collection then the royal decree no (43) was issued in 1958 which criminalizes abuse of public office and embezzlement of public funds. A special law was issued too in 1971 to discipline employees on what irregularities they make and the Board of Control and Investigation was established to implement it. And in 1992 an anti- bribery law was passed. In 2003 a special law was issued on anti-money laundering and in 2007 a national strategy on protecting integrity and fighting corruption was issued. In 2011 the National Anti-Corruption Commission was established. In addition to the great efforts being made in the field of anti-corruption, there are still other equal efforts in executing preventive measures in promoting integrity. One of the examples of these efforts was in 2006, an account was opened to give a chance for those who took money unlawfully to return it without disclosing their identity. This account has seen a rise in the number of deposits recently, which indicates the increase of society awareness. The total amount of money deposited until the end of last year was 80 million Dollars. This money will be used for humanitarian purposes. The kingdom is also making a lot of efforts in improving the efficiency of government entities. One of the most prominent aspects of the development in this field is the royal decree issued in 30/1/2015, which abolished many of the councils and committees in the kingdom and established two councils linked organizationally to the Council of Ministers, which are as follow:
Council of Political and Security Affairs and the council of Economic and Development Affairs. This decision came to prevent the duplication of aims and mechanisms of work between government entities leading to the integration of roles, responsibilities and specialties. I would like also to refer to the Council of Ministers decision which was released recently in 12/10/2015 which included establishing a national center for measuring the performance of public entities in the kingdom.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
The kingdom has worked on the implementation of provisions required in the UNCAC and this year we have finished the review of chapter 3 and 4. This made us gain much experience and knowledge to be in line with the UNCAC and to develop a number of laws like (anti-bribery law, the royal decree No. 43 on combating crimes of public office, law of public competition and procurement and we are also working on issuing several important laws, such as ( a new law against illicit enrichment) and the preparation for bylaws related to financial disclosures, the development of the protection of public funds law, and a law for the protection of witnesses and whistleblowers.
With regard to the international cooperation and offering mutual legal assistance, the kingdom established in 2012 a central entity specialized in requesting legal assistance called the Permanent Committee for legal assistance. The kingdom also works now on issuing a guide to recover the assets.
With regard to the judiciary, judiciary in the kingdom has full independence according to the article 46 of the basic law of governance which stated “ Judiciary is independent authority and no power is over the rulings of the judges except for the ruling of Islamic Sharia law’. Article 50 stated that the king or his deputy are responsible for executing the judicial rulings”.
Article one of the justice system stated that judges are independent, no one has authority over them except that of the Islamic law and regulations, and no one has the right to interfere in judiciary.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I would like to emphasize in this regard that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is continuing the process of development, protecting integrity and fighting corruption. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz ordered to review the control systems to enhance their role in eliminating corruption and saving public funds and to ensure punishing the violators. The kingdom works on promoting transparency, protecting integrity and fighting corruption in accordance with international standards. Taking into consideration reports issued by international organizations, which the Saudi National Anti-Corruption Commission studies carefully, and it looks into international experiences in this field in order to benefit from them in developing the regulations and enhancing our preventive methods against corruption. We also do periodical revision for regulations and laws related to know its effectiveness. And on the basis of the National Strategy of maintaining Integrity and fighting corruption which stipulates in more than one place to enhance cooperation between countries to benefit from the experiences of other countries and international organizations (governmental or non- governmental).
In the end, I would like to thank again the Republic of Russia and the organizers of this important Conference, wishing all success for the conference.