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Saudi migrant workers ‘packed as animals’ and ‘forced to drink from toilet’

August 5, 2020 at 2:51 pm

Saudi Arabia’s treatment of migrants has come under sharp criticism from rights groups following allegations that detainees are “are packed as animals” and forced to “drink from the toilet”.

These are the horrific conditions in Al-Shumaisi Detention Centre, according to detainees awaiting deportation from the kingdom. Many of those arrested by Saudi officials for working illegally find themselves in the Al-Shumaisi Detention Centre, a huge complex designed to hold 32,000 inmates. Detainees often don’t know how long they will be kept at the centres, or what charges have been levelled against them.

We are packed as animals. We sleep on metal beds with no mattress, no proper sanitation

Ibraahin told the Guardian through a translator. “We drink water from the toilet. If you have money you can buy clean water. If don’t have any, you just take dirty water from the toilet.”

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Another inmate arrested for being undocumented while working as a camel shepherd complained about the lack of food. “We are given bread and very little rice. Dry rice and no protein. The food they provide is of bad quality. There are no lemons, no vegetables.”

Both men told the Guardian that when they were arrested the police asked for bribes and said they would be released if they paid. “If you have money and give the bribe, nobody will take you to jail,” Ibraahin is reported saying.

Reports of the inhumane conditions within Saudi detention centres was met with sharp criticism from rights groups who pointed to the kingdom’s failure to uphold basic standards.

“[Despite] the terrible overcrowding, insanitary conditions, lack of adequate healthcare and physical abuse in Saudi Arabia’s immigration detention centres, Saudi Arabia has done little to improve them or take steps to treat detainees with dignity,” Adam Coogle, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said.

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“In a time of increased dangers from Covid-19, Saudi Arabia should move beyond small-scale detainee releases and take real steps to overhaul these detention centres and rethink its mass deportation policy,” added Coogle.