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Source: European Parliament 2

B9‑0325/2020

European Parliament resolution on the situation of Ethiopian migrants in detention centres in Saudi Arabia

(2020/2815(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Saudi Arabia, notably the one on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa of March 2014, the one on the case of Raif Badawi of February 2015; the one on the case of Ali Mohmmed al-Nimr of October 2015; the one on the situation of women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia of 31 May 2018, the one on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of 24 October 2018 and the one on the situation on women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia of 12 February 2019;

 having regard to the New York Declaration and to the UN Global Compact on Refugees and to the UN Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018,

 having regard to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism of June 2018, after his visit to Saudi Arabia;

 having regard to the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights;

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

 having regard to the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW),

 having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT),

 having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),

 having regard to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (“Mandela Rules”),

 having regard to Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  Whereas reports of appalling detention conditions and arbitrary detentions of migrants in Saudi Arabia highlight a systemic lack of access to justice and institutional discrimination; whereas women rights defenders and human rights defenders remain detained for their peaceful activism and some have been ill-treated or tortured;  whereas Saudi Arabia retains a range of laws discriminating against women, in particular the legal provisions relating to their personal status (regulating marriage, divorce and inheritance), despite recent reforms; whereas according to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, abuses are committed by the Saudi Arabian authorities through the use of electronic surveillance technology; whereas Saudi Arabia remains one of the five top executing countries in the world;

B.  Whereas the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds one of the lowest levels of ratification of core international human rights treaties and has not ratified the main instruments relevant to protection against arbitrary detention and immigration detention, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which provides for national prevention mechanisms and detention monitoring visits, the Migrant Workers Convention, the Refugee Convention and the Convention on Statelessness; whereas Saudi Arabia has made implementation of the few human rights norms it has subscribed to conditional upon respect for the norms of Islam and Sharia law;

C.  Whereas migrant workers especially from across Asia, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa represent 37% of the population; whereas Saudi Arabia currently hosts 13 million migrants, 31% of whom are women; whereas migrant women thus represent 12% of the total population in Saudi Arabia;

D.  Whereas Saudi authorities have launched a number of mass deportation campaigns over the past years; whereas, despite the UN urged Saudi Arabia to cease deportations in April 2020, Saudi Arabia has continued the practice to date, including throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; whereas in June 2020 the Interior Ministry of Saudi Arabia announced that migrant workers found violating quarantine restrictions in the country, including gathering in groups of more than five persons, would face fines of up to 200.000 SAR (approximately 45.000 Euro), deportation, and a life-long re-entry ban;

E.  Whereas in April 2020, thousands of Ethiopian migrants were expelled from Yemen as Houthi forces declared them “coronavirus carriers”; whereas migrants forced to the border became caught in crossfire between Saudi and Houthi forces; whereas dozens of migrants were killed and others were forced to the Saudi border where they waited for days without food or water to be allowed into the country; whereas, upon entry, migrants have immediately placed in detention and families have been separated as migrants’ groups were divided between men and women; whereas, according to the International Organization for Migration, approximately 2,000 Ethiopians remain stranded on the Yemeni side of the border, without food, water or health care; whereas these actions by Saudi military and Houthi security forces constitute grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law;

F.   Whereas about 260,000 Ethiopian migrant workers, an average of 10,000 per month, were deported from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia between May 2017 and March 2019; whereas between March and the beginning of April 2020, a further 2,870 Ethiopian migrant workers have been deported, until deportations temporarily halted in April due to the numerous concerns voiced by various humanitarian actors and by the Ethiopian Government; whereas many of those deported have previously been held in overcrowded facilities such as Al Shumaysi Detention Centre, which can hold up to 32,000 persons; whereas detainees in Al Shumaysi are held in bunk-bed filled halls, which confine up to 80 persons;

G.  Whereas reports conducted by human rights defenders and civil society organisations uniformly describe the appalling situation in the detention centres in al-Dayer and Jizan and highlight the overcrowding, blocked and overflowing toilets, lack of beds and blankets, lack of medical care including prenatal care for pregnant women, inadequate food and water and lack of sanitation and measures to address and prevent the diffusion of COVID-19; whereas three persons died while held in detention in the al-Dayer centre;

1.  Denounces that the Saudi political system remains profoundly undemocratic and continues severely repressing all voices of dissent; calls, once again, on the Saudi authorities to release Sakharov laureate Raif Badawi from detention immediately and unconditionally; calls, once again, to immediately release women human rights defenders, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sada, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya’a al-Zahrani; highlights that the two years’ anniversary of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on 2 October 2020 remains a chilling message for all critical voices in Saudi Arabia, including many held in detention for their peaceful activism, deplores the fact that the trial which was concluded in September 2020 was held in secrecy and failed to meet basic international fair trial standards, calls therefore for an independent and impartial international investigation and a fair trial in accordance with international standards and with international observers present;

2. Firmly condemns the ongoing arbitrary and abusive detention of migrants in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in Saudi Arabia and reiterates that, in line with international human rights law, detention must be prescribed by law and be necessary, reasonable and proportional to the objectives to be achieved and must last for the shortest time possible, and that a decision to impose a detention measure always has to be based on an assessment of the individual circumstances, in which the individual interests have been taken into account;

3.  Calls on Saudi Arabia to urgently put an end to arbitrary detention and to ensure access to justice, judicial review of detention and due process for all detainees, to release migrants currently held arbitrarily in overcrowded detention facilities and take steps to reform its detention policies; recalls, that as clarified by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, children should never be detained for immigration purposes, and detention can never be justified as in a child’s best interests, calls on Saudi authorities to urgently release children along with their family members, and to provide for safe non-custodial alternatives to detention to which humanitarian agencies can have regular access;

4.  Condemns the forced expulsions, at the hand of the Houthi forces, of thousands of Ethiopian migrants from Yemen and calls for an urgent investigation on the reports of shootings and fatalities at the border as a result of crossfire between Saudi and Houthi forces;

5.  Condemns Saudi Arabia’s kafala sponsorship labour system, which ties workers to their employers and places enormous pressures on foreign workers, making them vulnerable to abuses at their places of work as well as to arrest, detention, and deportation; is concerned of the particularly negative impact of systemic discrimination of migrant women and in particular migrant domestic workers who are more vulnerable to physical abuse, extremely long working hours, lack of freedom of movement and offer suffer employers’ control over job transfer or exiting the country; calls for the urgent abolishment of the kafala sponsorship system for migrant workers;

6.  Denounces the continued, systemic discrimination against women and girls in Saudi Arabia and deplores the glaring disconnect between the encouraging announcements of reform by the Saudi leadership and the reality on the ground; calls on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to refrain from any systemic discrimination against women, migrants, including migrant women, and minorities, including religious minorities; deplores that, despite welcome reforms for women since 2019, discriminatory laws against women remain, including regarding their personal status, and the male guardianship system has yet to be fully abolished;

7.  Calls on the European Union and the Member States to take a strong, public stand against ongoing arbitrary detentions and deportations of migrants in Saudi Arabia and to lead by example by immediately putting an end to similar practices within the European Union; calls on the European Commission and the Member States, with the support of UNHCR, to offer the urgent resettlement of vulnerable migrants to the European Union; 

8.  Reiterates the need to ensure a more comprehensive approach to the extremely worrying record of human rights violations, including against women and girls, human rights defenders and minorities in Saudi Arabia and calls on the EU to take an initiative at the next UN Human Rights Council which would raise the issue of membership by States with deeply questionable human rights records;

9. Reiterates its urgent call on all EU Member States to refrain from selling arms and any military equipment to Saudi Arabia; recalls its resolution on the situation in Yemen of 4 October 2018; urges all EU Member States to refrain from selling arms in this context to the UAE, and any member of the international coalition, as well as to the Yemeni Government and other parties to the conflict; reiterates its recent call for an end to exports of surveillance technology and other equipment that can facilitate internal repression, to several countries including Saudi Arabia;

10.  Calls on Saudi Arabia authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to lift the reservations made to CEDAW, to ratify the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW, to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, the 1951 Geneva Convention and the Convention on Statelessness; urges Saudi authorities to extend a standing invitation to the visit of all Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council; calls for the establishment of a UN Special Rapporteur on Saudi Arabia, in line with the other HRC Special Procedures created for the most serious human rights situation worldwide;

11.  Calls on Saudi Arabia and on the European Union and its Member States alike to ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;

12.  Recalls that the Human Rights dialogue with Saudi Arabia is due to take place at the end of 2020; calls on the HR/VP to present the outcome of the ex-ante assessment that is required to be carried out prior to taking a decision to launch such a dialogue and to indicate its benchmarks and practical aims and the specific added value identified by the EEAS/COHOM prior to the holding of the first dialogue; asks the HR/VP to clarify whether there will be a list concerning individual cases to be raised with the Saudi authorities and if so, how these individuals will be identified and followed up on; 

13.  Calls on the EU and its Member States, in light of the persistent and serious human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, to reconsider their attendance at the upcoming G20 to be hosted (virtually) by Saudi Arabia on 21 and 22 November 2020;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, the European External Action Service, the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Secretary-General of the Centre for National Dialogue of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

 

 

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