Saudi Arabia Needs to Take More Responsibility for Foreign Workers Human Right Abuse

African Think Tank

The African Think Tank today called upon the government of Saudi Arabia to take more responsibility for the human right abuse of foreign workers particularly African, including Ethiopian, Somali, Eritrean, Sudanese, South East Asian Indian, Philippines etc. The current unabated human right abuse to Ethiopian; Eritrean, Sudanese and Somali’s workers is not acceptable in the street of the country has to stop immediately. “This is not something that the international community can stop, but can influence outcomes,” continued Dr. Ahmed. “This violence is deplorable”.

Saudi Arabia is the largest employer of foreign nationals in the world after the United States. Almost six million foreign workers – a quarter of the population – are employed in Saudi Arabia. While it’s not clear how many are refugees, a figure of at least 400,000 seems the minimum.

There is a serious subculture of abuse in Saudi Arabia, and many laws which would not be accepted in a modern state. A Sudanese worker was executed by beheading in 2011 for ‘sorcery’ and Ethiopian young women working as house maid abused, and raped, and many more horrific stories on utube3. Laws protecting foreign workers are not particularly just or equitable. Contracts and legal proceedings are held in Arabic, and no assistance is given to understand them. In a 2004 report 1, Human Rights Watch called for a large number of changes.

This situation has arisen because Saudi Arabia was a poor, under-skilled country when it suddenly became rich in the 1930’s from oil revenues, and needed skilled foreign workers. But this money is decreasing. From 1995, the Saudi government instituted a policy of ‘Saudisation’, which has seen the number of foreign workers drop by about three million. Saudis are often reluctant to take on unskilled jobs which have been traditionally performed by foreign workers.
For the last few months, the Saudi government has instituted a mass crackdown on foreign migrants. Over 200,000 workers have been deported and many more have been living under bridges and subways and been abused and raped by Saudi citizens, while the law and order enforcement has been missing. 2 This policy was enacted without consulting industry or business and without ensuring that there were replacement Saudi workers available. Workers did not go to their jobs for fear of being rounded up. It caused a crisis that became so bad that King Abdullah ordered a three-month suspension for foreign workers to get their papers in order and recently announced deportation of foreign workers and the citizen resorted to abuse and human right violation on the victims.

“This is particularly bad for workers who come from countries that there are UNHCR advisories not to return refugees to” said Dr. Berhan Ahmed, chairperson of the African Think Tank. “In 2012, Nigerian women without guardians were repatriated, and also a number of Somalis and Ethiopian. There are over 500,000 Ethiopians, Somalis, and Eritreans in Saudi Arabia. Some of these are there with the permission of their government, but many are refugees. If the refugees are forcibly repatriated, as Egypt and Israel did last year, they face arbitrary torture, imprisonment and even execution, as happened to those poor people. I call upon the Saudi government to protect the workers while in Saudi and also respect international law of foreign workers and UNHCR advisories when repatriating refugees and other workers.” We call upon the international community’s to pressure the Saudi government to act immediately to stop the human right abuse. The African community Melbourne Rally is at the Parliament house, spring St tomorrow at 1 pm, 18 Nov 13 and The Canberra rally is at the gate of Saudi Arabian Embassy against human right violation of Africans in Saudi A

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