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Migrant Rights - Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East

A spotlight on Saudi, Oman and Kuwait

Detention & Deportation practices in the gulf

GCC Countries recurrently 'crack down' on undocumented migrants, detaining and deporting them in mass 'security' campaigns.

States argue it is their right to detain and deport undocumented migrants

States also fail to recognize that undocumented or otherwise 'errant' migrants still have rights, which are systematically violated by their detention practices and deportation procedures.

In addition, a worker often becomes undocumented due to negligence of their sponsors.

GCC states set arbitrary goals to reduce the migration population, lending to an overly aggressive detention and deportation practices.

According to a Kuwaiti MP 280,000 People should be deported
Oman intends to cut 6% or 200,000 of the expat workforce
Saudi Arabia is attempting to reduce the foreign population by 6% or 600,000 people under a five-year plan

Who are the workers being detained and deported?

'Absconded' workers are migrants who 'run away' from their employers, often because of exploitation. The Kafala system makes it difficult for workers to legally change employers, so exploited migrants have little choice but to escape.

running man running man

Workers who abscond are considered "Illegal"

  • 500,000

    workers fled employers in saudi in 2013

    Most were low-paid workers such as domestic workers, drivers, and laborers.

  • 1,500

    workers on average run away from their employers in Bahrain each month

  • over5,000

    workers absconded in Oman in their first six months

    In 2012, Oman arrested 15,000 absconded workers.

Some undocumented workers are on black-market "Free" visas

In which a citizen charges them an initial fee and yearly sums to renew their residency and employment visas while they work for someone else.

Many migrants don’t realize
these visas are illegal

  • 65% of migrant workers had not been shown their work contract

  • 65% of migrant workers had not been shown their work contract

  • 65% of migrant workers had not been shown their work contract

  • 65% of migrant workers had not been shown their work contract

In Bahrain

Some employers report workers as 'absconding' so they can obtain more visas (allocated to citizens on a quota basis). Sponsors often retain workers identity documents, which can further prolong their detention.

Sponsors who force migrants into an undocumented status, or who sell "free visas" to migrant workers, are rarely held accountable.

Some workers are properly documented, but are still subject to arbitrary arrest and deportation

Kuwait arrested 25,000 Migrants In first six months of 2014

15,000 were later released by employers who promised to renew their visas

Undocumented migrants are disproportionately penalized, indefinitely detained until they are deported.

In 2014, over the span of a few days 13,000 undocumented migrants were deported from Kuwait
In the last five years, over 31,000 Pakistanis were deported from Oman
In the last five years, over 122,000 Pakistanis were deported from Kuwait

Saudi deports an average of 1000 people a day

Kuwait deports 100 domestic workers a day

Kuwait has deported over 11,800 people between March and June 2014

In the last 5 years, over 63,000 Pakistanis were deported from the UAE

Oman detains and deports hundreds of 'labor law violators' each week Saudi deported over 900,000 migrants in 2013

Kuwait deported over 18,000 migrants between 2011 and 2012, and over 6,000 migrants in the 6 months of 2013

Migrants can be detained indefinitely and are provided little information about their repatriation.

Though many migrants are denied the right to expedient deportation, they are still not provided with an individual review of their cases or the opportunity to contest their deportation.

The rights of all migrants, regardless of their legal status, should be protected.

States have the right to regulate migration and to deport those who violate their laws, but must recognize that these very laws also induce undocumented migration. Disproportionately penalizing migrants is neither an effective nor just solution to encouraging legal migration and improving national employment rates.

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