UN calls on Saudi Arabia to take measures to prevent human trafficking and open investigations into exploitation of Vietnamese girls recruited as domestic workers
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: November 4, 2021
UN human rights experts have called on Saudi Arabia and Vietnam to crack down on human trafficking.
Documenting the abuse of Vietnamese girls in Saudi Arabia:
Commenting on the documented mistreatment of Vietnamese women and girls working in the kingdom as domestic workers, the experts said: ” We are seeing traffickers targeting Vietnamese women and girls living in poverty, many of whom are already vulnerable and marginalised. Traffickers operate with impunity.”
The experts added that after signing with labor recruitment companies in Vietnam, some girls and women found themselves subjected to sexual abuse, beatings, torture and other cruel treatment by their employers upon their arrival in Saudi Arabia, and that women were often deprived of food and medical treatment, and were not paid at all, or their wages were less than what is stipulated in their contracts.
UN urge Saudi Arabia and Vietnam to adopt measures to prevent human trafficking:
The experts urged Saudi Arabia and Vietnam to adopt effective measures and policies to prevent and combat human trafficking and protect trafficked workers, calling on these governments to ensure that bilateral cooperation on labor migration is based on human rights and includes effective accountability mechanisms. Saudi Arabia should also subject migrant domestic workers to labor law protections and extend reforms of the sponsorship system to these workers.
The experts said they had received “really disturbing allegations” that some companies in Vietnam had recruited girls to work as domestic workers and falsified their ages on identity documents to disguise the fact that they were children.
Experts cited the case of a 15-year-old Vietnamese girl who fell ill from beatings by her employer, who also denied her food and medical treatment, and was arranging to return home but died before she could board her plane back to Vietnam. Recruiting workers forged her documents, so her family has not yet been able to get her body home.
The experts noted that between September 3 and October 28, 2021, nearly 205 girls were returned to Vietnam, many of them victims of trafficking, calling on Vietnam to strengthen the care and assistance services provided to the returning women, including legal assistance and medical and psychosocial care.
Opening impartial investigations and holding those responsible accountable:
The experts stressed that the two governments should conduct an impartial and independent investigation into human rights violations against migrant women and girls, the alleged involvement of public authorities in human trafficking, and prosecute the perpetrators.
“We further remind Vietnam and Saudi Arabia of their international legal obligations to cooperate in order to combat trafficking in persons, including in criminal justice investigations, provision of effective remedies and assistance to victims of trafficking,” the experts said.