Abusive Saudi Employer Keeps his Filipino Driver in Jail

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Nov 28 2009

We have received alarming news about a Filipino man who is currently jailed in Saudi Arabia after suffering months of abuse from his employer while working without pay. The man's employer is not making any attempts to help his worker, trying to extort money from him.

The man, R. M. (full name withheld for his protection), arrived in Riyadh On December 2008 and started working as a family driver. The contract he signed with a Saudi sponsor while still in the Philippines specified a different employer, but once he arrived in the country, he was passed to his current employer. Around two months after his arrival, R. told his family back home that he is being constantly physically and verbally abused by his employer. He wished to return home, but because his employer held his passport and he couldn't afford a plane ticket back home, R. stayed trapped in Saudi Arabia, waiting for his two-year contract to end.

On the second week of November, R. M. was ordered by his employer to shop for the family. While he was driving, a Saudi teen rear-ended R.'s vehicle. The teen managed to avoid any trouble for causing the crash. Since R. didn't have a driver's license, he was thrown in jail eight days later. It was the employer's obligation to arrange for a driver's license for R., but the employer never did so.

Currently, R. M. is held with hundreds of other migrant workers in prison, who are being treated "like dogs with rabies", according to R.'s sister, who contacted Migrant-Rights. The employer is demanding that R. pay for the damages to the car, or he will stay in jail. R. cannot afford to pay for the damages since he hasn't been receiving his salaries.

No assistance has been offered to R. M. by the Philippines embassy in Saudi Arabia yet. Migrant-Rights contacted the embassy asking them to extend their help to this innocent man.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East