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To His Royal Highness Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
Al Saud, First Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard:
- Appoint an independent and impartial royal commission to
conduct a national inquiry into the situation of migrant workers in the
- The commissions mandate should include identifying
underlying systemic problems that facilitate abuses and proposing
remedies. The commission should focus on criminal justice system flaws
that systematically deny basic due process and other rights, and it
should closely investigate the role of networks of individuals in the
private sector who benefit financially from the exploitation of migrant
- The commissions members should include men and women,
particularly women, who are professionally trained in the fields of law,
medicine, psychology, social work, and journalism. The commission should
be provided with sufficient resources so that it can employ professional
staff to collect and analyze information from victims of abuse, including
migrant workers in deportation jails and those who are detained or imprisoned
in the criminal justice system.
- The commission should hold public hearings as part of its
inquiry. Migrant workers, and their families and advocates, should be
invited to give testimony, as should regional and international
nongovernmental organizations concerned with the rights of migrant
- The commission should be required to complete its work
within a defined period of time, and make its findings and
recommendations publicly available.
- Promulgate by royal decree an enforceable bill of rights
for migrant workers and publicize it widely in the kingdom, using print
and broadcast media and other means of public outreach. The decree should
be issued simultaneously in Arabic and all the languages of the countries
of origin of the migrant worker population. It should delineate, in a
comprehensive and detailed manner, all the rights that are granted to
migrant workers under the kingdoms laws and regulations. The bill of
rights should serve as a practical educational tool for workers and employers
alike, and clarify legal and other ambiguities that lead to abusive
- Comply with the requirements of the International Labor
Organizations Convention (No. 29) concerning Forced Labor, and make the
use of forced or compulsory labor a specifically defined criminal offense
under domestic law.
- Impose substantial penalties on employers who withhold the
passports and residency permits of migrant workers, and those who charge
illegal fees for official immigration documents, and widely publicize the
institution of these sanctions.
- Extend the protections of the kingdoms labor law to all
migrant workers, irrespective of job category and gender.
- Take immediate steps to end the forced confinement of
women migrant workers at places of employment and residence, and
promulgate and widely publicize regulations to this effect. The
regulations should impose substantial penalties on employers who continue
the practice, and provide fair and equal compensation to the victims,
commensurate with the length and severity of their confinement.
- Ensure that the upcoming government report concerning its
compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women includes comprehensive information about the
situation of women migrant workers in the kingdom.
- Ratify the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of
All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and urge the other
members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to do the same.
- Define, in consultation with the ministry of justice, the
specific conditions that constitute illegal forced or compulsory labor,
and take all appropriate measures to ensure that employers and workers in
the kingdom are aware of these prohibitions.
- Designate a task force to draft a bill of rights for
migrant workers in the kingdom for submission to the Consultative Council
and senior government officials. The task force should work in
coordination with its counterparts in the ministry of interior and the
ministry of justice.
- Afford migrant workers in deportation jails the
opportunity to utilize existing legal mechanisms to file grievance
complaints against their employers before departure from the kingdom, and
make resources available to them so that they have access to grievance
- Conduct an independent review of the kingdoms labor
grievance mechanisms and, in cooperation with other relevant ministries,
make practical recommendations to address the problem of the lack of
enforcement of decisions of labor dispute commissions.
- Bring interior ministry arrest and detention practices
into conformity with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular
- Inform migrant workers who are arrested as criminal
suspects of their rights under the kingdoms laws, including the rights
guaranteed in the new criminal procedure code. This information should be
provided orally and in writing, in languages that migrants can understand.
- End as an urgent matter the arrest and imprisonment of
migrant women who become pregnant voluntarily or because they were victims
of sexual violence.
- Make public detailed information about migrant workers who
have been sentenced to death in the kingdom and are awaiting execution.
- Formulate a legal strategy to meet the requirements of ILO
Convention (No. 29) concerning Forced Labor by making the use of forced or
compulsory labor a criminal offense under Saudi law, and train prosecutors
and judges to thoroughly investigate complaints about this abuse.
- Provide legal guidance to the Interior Ministry to ensure
that its arrest and detention practices with respect to foreign nationals
are in strict conformity with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on
- Take immediate steps to ensure judicial supervision of the
investigation of migrant workers who are criminal suspects for the purpose
of ending abusive interrogations, torture, and coerced confessions.
- Offerfree legal assistance during investigation
and trial to all migrant workers accused of criminal offenses.
- Ensure that no one detained on suspicion of committing a
criminal offense will be hampered during investigation and trial because
of a lack of fluency in Arabic. Provide professional interpreters for all
suspects in such circumstances if their embassies and consular officials
have not provided such services.
- Suspend the implementation of the death sentences of
migrant workers and others in the kingdom until it can be determined
independently that torture was not used and confessions were not coerced.
- Instruct all judges in the kingdom to consider carefully
cases of migrant workers charged with criminal offenses that originated
with sponsors or employers and may be related to labor disputes. Judges
should refer these cases to labor grievance bodies for a decision before
continuing with the legal proceedings.
- Urge the government to appoint a royal commission of
inquiry to examine the widespread abuses against migrant workers, and the
public and private systems that enable such abuses to occur.
- Hold open hearings to identify major problems of migrant
workers that can be addressed through specific legislative initiatives and
reforms. Testimony should be requested from senior government officials
including the ministers of labor, interior, and justice as well as
migrant workers themselves and nongovernmental migrant rights
organizations inside and outside the kingdom.
- Recommend that the Ministry of Labor draft, and the
government promulgate, a bill of rights for migrant workers that sets
forth in clear and unambiguous terms practices and treatment that are
illegal under Saudi and international law. Further recommend that this
bill of rights should be translated into the major languages of the
kingdoms migrant communities and disseminated as broadly as possible,
using advertisements in print and broadcast media and in public spaces
throughout the kingdom.
- Study the provisions of the Convention on the Protection
of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and
make recommendations to the government about its ratification.
Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Urge the government of Saudi Arabia to submit its
long-overdue report on its compliance with the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
- Advise the government of Saudi Arabia that the report should
include comprehensive information about the situation of women migrant
workers in the kingdom, including the human rights violations and other
problems identified in this report, and the steps that authorities have
taken and will take to address them.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD):
- Advise the government of Saudi Arabia to include in its
next report to CERD detailed information and analysis about the
composition of the migrant communities in the kingdom, including the
- Encourage the government to describe the measures it has
taken and plans to take to combat prejudices in the workplace and beyond
-- that lead to violations of the rights embodied in the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Such measures
should include but not be limited to those undertaken in the fields of
education, culture, and cultural awareness, and information.
To the Committee
against Torture (CAT):
- Urge the government of Saudi Arabia to examine in its next
report to CAT how migrant workers have suffered violations of the rights
guaranteed in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, particularly during interrogations to
coerce confessions of criminal offenses.
- Request that the governments report also indicate clearly
how it carries out its obligations under articles 13, 14, and 15 of the
Convention, with respect to criminal suspects and defendants who are
- Ensure that the special problems of migrant workers are
addressed in the committees concluding observations of governments next
- Disseminate this report within their countries and discuss
- Raise formally with your counterparts in Saudi Arabia the importance of the kingdom launching an independent national inquiry concerning
labor-related and other human rights abuses of migrant workers.
- Urge the government of Saudi Arabia to promulgate an
enforceable bill of rights that will be applicable to all migrant
workers in the kingdom, including women and men employed in domestic
service and agriculture.
- Stress the importance of ending the forced confinement of
women migrant workers, and urge Saudi authorities to make this practice a
criminal offense under Saudi law.
- Urge that Saudi authorities, particularly the ministry of
interior, fully uphold the kingdoms legal responsibilities under the
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
- Urge Saudi authorities to afford to migrant workers all
the rights set forth in the kingdoms new criminal procedure code.
- Request immediate and full disclosure of all relevant
information about your countrys citizens who have been sentenced to death
in sharia courts and are awaiting execution.
- With respect to these death penalty cases, request without
delay the minutes of the court hearings of these defendants, pursuant to
article 156 of the new criminal procedure code. Article 156 states:
Court hearings shall be attended by a clerk who records the minutes under
the supervision of the Chairman of the hearing. This record shall
indicate the name of the judge(s) of whom the court is composed, the name
of the prosecutor, place and time of the hearing, names of the litigants
present and their advocates, their statements and claims, a summary of
their pleadings, the evidence including testimony of witnesses, any
action taken during the hearing, and wordings and bases of the judgment.
Each page of this record shall be signed by the Chairman, by the members
of the court, and by the clerk of the court.
- Strengthen the support mechanisms for migrant workers in Saudi Arabia .