Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Saudis Brutalize Migrants

Saudis Brutalize Migrants

by Stephen Lendman

Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most ruthless regimes. International law principles are systematically breached.

The Kingdom is ruled by the despotic Saud monarchy. Democracy is strictly forbidden. So are free and open expression, press freedom and regime criticism. 

Human Rights Watch's 2015 World Report said ruling authorities "continued in 2014 to try, convict, and imprison political dissidents and human rights activists solely on account of their peaceful activities." 

"Systematic discrimination against women and religious minorities continued. Authorities failed to enact systematic measures to protect the rights of 9 million foreign workers." 

They "subjected hundreds of people to unfair trials and arbitrary detention. New anti-terrorism regulations that took effect in 2014 can be used to criminalize almost any form of peaceful criticism of the authorities as terrorism."

Fundamental rights people in civilized societies expect don't exist - including no free expression or religion, electoral choices, due process, or judicial fairness.

So-called "breaking allegiance to the ruler" or "trying to distort the reputation of the kingdom" subjects "offenders" to long prison terms or capital punishment - by beheading, firing squad or stoning.

Longstanding abuses of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia are horrific. A Filipino worker called it a "bad dream."

A Bangladeshi said he "slept many nights beside the road and spent many days without food. It was a painful life."

Migrant workers experience extreme exploitation amounting to virtual slavery - even though former King Faisal abolished the practice in 1962. 

It exists in new form, exacerbated by religious, racial and gender discrimination. Most migrants are from other Middle East countries, Asia and Africa.

They're paid sub-poverty wages for 12 or more hours a day work under poor or appalling conditions. Women are vulnerable to rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

Anyone charged with an offense (real or contrived) is subjected to horrific treatment - including torture, forced confessions and brutal punishments.

A May 10 Human Rights Watch (HRW) Report discussed horrific abuses against so-called undocumented migrant workers titled "Detained, Beaten, Deported: Saudi Abuses against Migrants during Mass Expulsions."

Since 2013, hundreds of thousands were deported. Victims describe serious abuses - including "beatings and detention in poor conditions before" deportations, said HRW.

Many arrive back in their countries of origin destitute - "unable to buy food or pay for transportation to their home areas, in some cases because" all their personal property was confiscated.

HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson said "(m)any of the hundreds of thousands of migrants Saudi Arabia has deported in the last year and a half have been sent back to places where their safety is threatened."

HRW interviewed 60 victims. None "were allowed to challenge their deportations or apply for asylum."

Anyone not working for a designated employer is subject to deportation - so-called "undocumented workers."

Thuggish Saudi police and labor authorities conduct raids on neighborhoods and business, checking IDs.

As of April 2014, 427,000 migrants were deported. They became undocumented by fleeing abusive employment.

Under Riyadh's kafala (sponsorship) system, migrants can't change jobs without employer permission. They're vulnerable to appalling abuses without redress.

In detention awaiting deportation, they get inadequate food and no medical care under poor sanitation conditions. Anyone complaining is abusively treated.

Saudi Arabia isn't a Refugee Convention signatory. It ignores all international humanitarian and human rights laws. Its own citizens are treated abusively. It's no surprise how horrifically migrants are mistreated.

It's within its legitimate right to deport undocumented migrants. International law requires they be treated with dignity and not returned to nations where they risk persecution or death.

According to Whitson, "(i)n seeking to enforce its labor laws, Saudi Arabia needs to be aware that these same laws sometimes encourage abuses that lead workers to become undocumented."

"Saudi Arabia will never solve its (undocumented migrant) problem…until it fixes its labor system to root out long-term systemic abuses."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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