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Saudi Arabia imprisons and deports thousands of foreign workers

February 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm

The assistant spokesperson of the Prisons’ Directorate General in Saudi Arabia, Major Abdullah Al-Harbi, revealed that the state has so far detained 33,350 foreign workers of different nationalities, deporting 14,304 by Sunday, following the government’s campaign to inspect the residency status of expatriate workers. The detained and deported foreign workers had failed to obtain proper work permits.

Harbi denied rumours of riots or clashes between the detainees, suggesting that “everything is going well. They will soon all be deported to their own countries.”

Al-Sharq newspaper quoted Al-Harbi on Monday qualifying the above by saying that, “we have delayed deporting some of the detainees to settle unfinished criminal charges against them.”

Thousands of foreign workers have left the Kingdom after a seven months amnesty period expired. During this time, the state had warned that workers who failed to obtain proper work permits would either be deported or imprisoned. Saudi Arabia hosts nine million expatriate workers, with most of them occupying low skills jobs or low income jobs that many Saudis refuse to take.

The streets of the capital Riyadh appeared vacant after the security forces cracked down on the commercial centres and work places to deport those workers who violated the work law. Several consulates in the Kingdom have requested the state to extend the amnesty period to allow their nationals the time they need to obtain the proper documentation.