The Right to a Fair Trial within a Reasonable Time in Criminal Cases
: A Comparative Study between Saudi Arabia and the Requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, using English Law as an Exemplar

  • Salem Saeed Alshehri

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research investigates the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time within the Saudi Arabian criminal justice system. The European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (ECHR) has been used for comparison and as an aspirational model, and the thesis uses the English criminal justice system as an exemplar. The hypothesis of this thesis is that Saudi Arabia does not at present fully meet the aspirational norms of international human rights regarding this right, and that a study of how the right has been developed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and applied by the English courts may prove fruitful for would-be reformers in Saudi Arabia. As such, the study strives to offer a comprehensive assessment of the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time in the Saudi Arabian legal system. Saudi Arabia’s recent enactment of the Law of Criminal Procedure 2013 (LCP), the Law of Procedure before Shariah Courts 2013 (LPBSC) and other reforms of the criminal justice system demonstrate its commitments to streamlining its system to meet international expectations. Despite these reforms, Saudi Arabia continues to experience troubling criminal prosecution backlogs and trial delays. The ECHR has been chosen for comparison because it complies with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR), and because the ECtHR plays a key role in ensuring signatory states’ compliance with the Convention. England has been selected as an exemplar because of its strong, historic common law system and its constitutional history. The study uses comparative analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of Saudi Arabia’s legal system and to make recommendations for strengthening the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time so that the application of this right in Saudi Arabia satisfies international aspirational norms. The Saudi Arabian domestic legal system is not as flexible as England’s. Its system requires gradual modification that will be achievable through the implementation of the Arab Charter on Human Rights 2004 (ACHR) standards. Saudi Arabia can also make good progress in its human rights laws by establishing independent institutions to oversee the realisation of fair and expedited trials.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPamela Ferguson (Supervisor)

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