Saudi panel identifies forcing to work for long hours and non-payment of wages as indicators of forced labor
The Saudi National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking has identified the act of forcing the employee to work for long hours and non-payment of wages as forms and indicators of forced labor and trafficking in persons. This was revealed by sources at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.
Speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, the sources said that the forms and indicators of forced labor and trafficking in persons also include threatening the worker about informing the authorities about some undesirable acts of the worker; forcing the employee to work without rest time as stipulated in the Labor Law, and keeping passport of the worker in the custody of the employer.
These practices are considered as administrative violations. However, if the employers force employees to get the work done under the above circumstances, these will be associated with the indicators of forced labor and suspected cases of trafficking in persons and will be referred to the competent security authorities to complete the investigation and take the necessary legal procedures.
It is noteworthy that Saudi Arabia has made extensive efforts to combat trafficking in persons, based on its belief in human rights, and its application of the teachings of the Islamic Shariah that respects human dignity.
In 2007, Saudi Arabia ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, known as the Palermo Protocols, and also ratified the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labor Convention, which is among the protocols of the International Labor Organization.
The Ministry of Human Resources has also implemented many programs to combat these crimes. The Kingdom’s national strategy is based on four main axes: Prevention; protection and assistance; prosecution; and national, regional and international cooperation.
With regard to the aspect of enacting regulations and legislation for the labor market and ensuring that workers obtain their rights that protects them from falling victim to crimes of trafficking in persons, the Ministry issued and implemented a number of initiatives and programs. These included launching the initiative to improve the contractual relationship; the Wage Protection Program; the contract documentation program; activating the electronic friendly settlement service; and launching the Musaned platform that provides recruitment services to beneficiaries electronically.
Through these packages of programs and initiatives, the ministry aims to protect the rights of workers and employers as well as to improve the labor market. The ministry has also carried out, in cooperation with the relevant authorities, several awareness campaigns about the danger of trafficking in persons and to raise awareness of the rights and duties of workers in establishments as well as that of domestic workers, through the launch of the Labor Culture Initiative campaign; the Awareness of Domestic Workers’ Rights campaign in multiple languages; the Indicators of Combating Trafficking in Persons campaign and other campaigns.
The ministry also conducted 16 workshops for more than 1,600 employees, including those working in call centers; field monitors, and shelter staff. They were provided with training to observe indicators of trafficking in persons, legal dimensions and means of protection, and how to deal with reports of trafficking in persons and refer them to the competent authorities.