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UN concerned about conditions of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia



Hundreds of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia have been detained in several immigration detention centers for deportation. These workers live in difficult, unsanitary and inhumane conditions in addition to the psychological and physical abuse they have been subjected to for several months.

The world – Saudi Arabia


On January 28, 2021, a number of UN Special Rapporteurs sent a letter to Saudi Arabia on the current situation of migrants stranded in overcrowded detention centres for long and indefinite periods.


The letter was signed by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the Special Rapporteur on torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to Safe Drinking Water and sanitation.


Pointed decisions to the terrible situation of detention centres, where there was no assessment of individual persons to address the need for detention, and that migrants can get legal assistance to challenge the legality of their detention. They added that the centres allegedly lacked adequate water and sanitation with almost no drinking water. The letter also states that migrants receive only a small piece of bread during the day and rice in the evening.


The special rapporteurs pointed out that 2 housing centers and other centers throughout the country, detained hundreds of migrants from Africa and Asian countries. There are also rooms full of women and children too.


According to the letter, the migrants have been detained for six months and at least two men for more than a year. Some have been subjected to torture and inhuman treatment, such as whipping and electrical wiring. These physical abuses occurred when detainees complained about conditions of detention or sought medical attention. The letter also stated that three men died of ill-treatment including the suicide of a minor.


Furthermore, the rapporteurs noted that the long – term risk faced by migrants is exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic, especially in the absence of appropriate prevention measures and exposure to unsanitary and overcrowded conditions of detention, the risk of infection has increased.


The detainees have not been tested for coronavirus, and according to the letter the rooms are full of people making it almost impossible to lie down or maintain distances. They added that among these migrant workers are victims of human trafficking and others from asylum seekers. The letter raised concerns about hundreds of asylum seekers being held without access to international protection or other protection mechanisms.


The special rapporteurs expressed in their letter expressed serious concern about the safety of immigrant detainees at immigration detention centers densely and other health conditions may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment since they can’t maintain a physical distance necessary as a preventive measure of SGRF-19. They explained that the international standards emphasize that states must ensure that persons detained on the same level of Health available in the community, which applies to all persons regardless of nationality or citizenship or immigration status, particularly during health emergencies. The rapporteurs also expressed concern that the alleged indefinite and prolonged detention of hundreds of migrants could amount to arbitrary detention, not to mention the Prohibition of the detention of migrant children under international law.


The letter raised concerns that hundreds of migrants could be deported without individual assessments of their protection needs and procedural safeguards, in violation of the principle of non-refoulement and the Prohibition of collective expulsion. Without an individual assessment, some migrants may be persecuted if returned.


The European Saudi Organization for human rights welcomes the UN’s sharing of its concerns about the poor situation of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. And with the special rapporteurs on it the duty of Saudi Arabia to take all necessary measures to protect the lives of individuals deprived of their liberty and physical integrity and to ensure the right to sanitation for all migrant workers detained. It also notes that the conditions of migrants contradict Saudi Arabia & apos; s claims that it has taken comprehensive and non-discriminatory measures to combat the coronavirus. The organization maintains that refoulement obligations are an absolute and non-derogable right under international customary rules as well as the Universal Declaration of human rights.


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