U.S. Department of State 2001 Trafficking in Persons Report - Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia (Tier 3)

Saudi Arabia is a destination country for trafficked persons. Millions of expatriates come to Saudi Arabia to work on the basis of contracts with their employers stipulating their salaries, work conditions, and job responsibilities. Some employers do not fulfill the terms of the contracts; a limited number of employees are then prevented from leaving their workplace. Workers from Bangladesh, Thailand, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Horn of Africa have reported being forced into domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.

The Government of Saudi Arabia does not meet the minimum standards and has not yet made significant efforts to combat trafficking, although the Government is attempting to reduce the number of expatriate workers in the country. The Government does not believe that trafficking is a problem because expatriate workers travel to Saudi Arabia voluntarily. The Government formally abolished slavery by royal decree in 1962; however, there are no laws specifically related to trafficking. The Government has an extensive system of labor courts that enforce the terms of work contracts. However, some workers are exempt from labor law, including farmers, herdsmen, and domestic servants. Saudi sponsors exercise considerable control over their employees, and are required by law to hold the passports of their employees. A sponsor's permission is required for an employee to leave the country and travel within Saudi Arabia. Maids who are victims of trafficking may attempt to seek assistance from their embassies, several of which provide safe houses where maids may stay while awaiting a resolution of their cases. The Government also operates safe houses for domestic employees. Domestic servants who attempt to flee their place of employment are sometimes detained and often deported.


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