World Economy

S. Arabia Deporting 100,000s of Migrants

S. Arabia Deporting 100,000s of MigrantsS. Arabia Deporting 100,000s of Migrants

Saudi authorities have conducted an intensive campaign to expel hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrant workers since 2013, international rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Sunday.

"Many 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,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HWR Middle East and North Africa director, said as her watchdog released a report on the mass expulsions in Beirut, World Bulletin reported.

"Saudi Arabia should treat all migrants with respect and decency, regardless of their status, and provide a fair legal process, including the right to challenge their deportation," she added. The 36-page report, titled “Detained, Beaten, Deported: Saudi Abuses against Migrants during Mass Expulsions,” has asserted that the mass expulsion campaign has resulted in abuses against many of the deported migrant workers. Based on interviews with 60 workers deported to Yemen and Somalia, the report cited what it described as "serious abuses" during the expulsion campaign. The interviewed deportees said they were subject to beatings and detention in poor conditions before being deported. None of the workers interviewed by the HRW were allowed to challenge their deportations or apply for asylum, the report said.

According to the report, the country has yet to establish an asylum system under which migrants could prevent their deportation to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened. The watchdog went on to urge Saudi authorities to immediately halt mass expulsions, and ensure that any future deportations, are based on an individual assessment of the circumstances of the person being removed.

It also called on Riyadh to change its labor rules to prevent thousands of workers from becoming undocumented, abolish the exit visa requirement to obtain permission from the employer to leave the country, and enact refugee law consistent with international standards.

"In 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," Whitson said. "Saudi Arabia will never solve the problem of informal work until it fixes its labor system to root out long-term systemic abuses."