Recruitment firms in Saudi warned against human rights violations of foreign workers

The ministry has instructed that all types of advertisements that violate the regulations related to human rights and trafficking in persons as well as those that violate social and religious privacy or public morality are prohibited

  
A Saudi man leaves a mobile shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 21, 2016. Image used for illustrative purpose.

A Saudi man leaves a mobile shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 21, 2016. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

RIYADH The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has issued a warning to recruitment companies that are offering labor services against any human rights of foreign workers as well as involvement in any sort of trafficking in persons.

The ministry sources told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that the ministry has emphasized this aspect in a circular sent to all recruitment companies and offices. The ministry has instructed that all types of advertisements that violate the regulations related to human rights and trafficking in persons as well as those that violate social and religious privacy or public morality are prohibited.

In the circular signed by Jaber Al-Mahmoud, assistant deputy minister for recruitment affairs, the ministry reiterated that it has the right to oblige the licensed recruitment firm, which has not adhered to the prescribed terms and conditions, to withdraw the advertisement within one working day after receiving the ministry’s notification, in addition to imposing any penalties or legal procedures against the violators.

While publishing ads related to any product or service, the ministry instructed that the advertisement must not contain anything that contravenes the regulations related to human rights and that the advertisement should not use words or phrases that harm the dignity of migrant workers and domestic workers.

The ministry cited examples for these terms such as for sale, for release, etc, saying that these should be avoided and must be replaced by the phrase transfer of services.

Similarly, the ads should not include words such as servant or maidservant, which is to be replaced by the term male worker or female worker. The ads do not contain the publication of personal photos, identity cards, residency permits or any other personal data of the migrant worker, domestic worker, and the like. There is also a condition that the worker should not bear any financial costs in exchange for transferring the service and the transfer of service shall be made only after obtaining the approval of the worker for the same.

Meanwhile, the ministry is facing accusations of slow processing of the file to hire domestic workers for the citizens with allowing large companies to bring them from some East Asian countries for which they charge high recruitment costs. This prompted some citizens to resort to the transfer of service of domestic workers from the local market in exchange for amounts ranging between SR30,000 and SR35,000.

Okaz has counted about 180 press releases published in print and electronic newspapers about the follow-ups of processing the file of domestic workers’ recruitment since it published the report titled “the return of Indonesian workers to the Kingdom” in October 2017 without having any tangible changes in the situation.

Meanwhile, some social media platforms are active in exploiting the crisis for domestic workers, coming forward with offers to transfer sponsorship of domestic workers of different nationalities in exchange for large sums of money reaching up to SR35,000. Okaz found that such offers are unreliable.

Nasreen Ali Al-Ghamdi, member of the National Committee for the Welfare of Prisoners, Released and Their Families (Tarahum), said that the Saudi Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law prohibits trafficking in any person in any form, as article 2 of the law stipulates the prohibition of slavery or practices similar to slavery, and the law considered practices a form of trafficking in persons.

On her part, Madawi Al-Farhan, a legal consultant, said that the penalty for committing one of the crimes in trafficking in persons is imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years or a fine not exceeding SR1million or of both, according to article 3 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law. She considered that the ads related to the transfer of service of domestic workers may fall under practices similar to slavery, especially since the law made clear that the abuse of power or the exploitation of a person’s weakness are considered ways to make the practice fall under the description of this crime.

 

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