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Saudi crackdown on migrant labour problems 14, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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Saudi Arabia is to introduce fines of up to 1 Million Saudi Rials (around $266,000) and lengthy jail terms of up to 15 years for human trafficking. Their definition of this is suitably wide-ranging and includes ‘holding a person under control for sexual abuse, forced labour, involuntary begging, slavery or slavery-like practices, and enforced organ removal or medical experimentation.’

This is good news. Saudi Arabia is currently in the lowest tear possible on the US State Department’s list of human traffickers. It is an insidious and dirty problem affecting swathes of the Middle East. Any kind of legislation that hints that Saudi is getting tougher with abusers is welcome. However, I would wager that it will be a long time – if ever – before a Saudi citizen is imprisoned for anything like 15 years. In a country where wasta is king, I can simply not see that happening. Is a Saudi court really going to convict a Saudi citizen where some poor, battered Philippine maid gives evidence? I – alas – can’t see it but fervently hope that I am proved wrong sooner rather than later.