Saudi Arabia: Authorities Launch New “Nation Without Violators” Campaign Targeting Illegal Foreign Workers

(Feb. 23, 2018) On February 12, 2018, the Public Security Division of the Ministry of Interior announced that it had launched a number of raids against illegal foreign workers violating the Saudi Residency Law of 1952. (Mohammed Rasooldeen, Expats Arrested for Violating Saudi Labor, Residency and Border Security Laws, ARAB NEWS (Feb. 12, 2018); Law No. 17-225-1337, as amended, art. 2, issued 4 May 1952, Ministry of Interior website.)

The raids came after the launch of a campaign called “A Nation Without Violators,” which targets foreign nationals who do not have valid residency permits for work in the kingdom or who came to the kingdom for purposes other than work and overstayed their visas. During these raids law enforcement officials arrested and detained not only foreign-national visa violators but also individuals who harbored those foreign nationals and facilitated the foreign nationals’ illegal residency. (Id.)

The number of foreign nationals who were arrested and detained for violating the Residency Law reached 562,961. (Id.) Moreover, as of January 23, 2018, 144 Saudi citizens had been arrested and charged with facilitating the violation of the Residency Law by foreign nationals. The Ministry of Interior has reportedly released 131 of them, with 13 still being detained. (The Number of Those Arrested Under “Nation Without Violators” Rose to 455,963, OKAZ (Jan. 23, 2018).)

In addition to the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labor has joined the campaign against illegal foreign workers, declaring that it has assigned 800 labor inspectors to conduct visits to work sites across the kingdom. The inspectors have reportedly conducted 70,250 visits so far. The goal of those visits is to check the validity of foreign workers’ work permits and ascertain whether any employer has violated the Residency Law by employing illegal residents. (Nawal Al-Jabr, “A Nation Without Violators.” Order Is Above All, AL-RIYADH (Feb. 14, 2018).)

The Saudi Residency Law of 1952 imposes an array of sanctions against foreign nationals and Saudi nationals and employers who violate the provisions of the Law. (Law No. 17-225-1337, art. 2.) Article 50, for example, requires the imprisonment of illegal residents until their deportation from the country. (Id. art. 50.) Article 57 of the same Law penalizes with imprisonment any Saudi citizen who sponsors a foreign worker if the citizen fails to bring the sponsored foreign national to the authorities or direct the authorities to the foreign national’s location. Under this provision, the Saudi national is to be kept in detention until the authorities know where the sponsored foreign national is located. (Id. art. 57.) Article 58 imposes a fine against employers who have employed illegal foreign workers, and also stipulates that any company, commercial house, contractor, or businessman employing a foreign national who does not have a residency permit for the purpose of work is to be fined between 500 and 1000 riyals (about US$133–266) for each illegal foreigner worker. (Id. art. 58.)

Source: New feed2

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