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Saudi police 'electrocute' Filipino protesters

Overseas workers allege torture after embassy sit-in

<p>Protesters camp outside the Philippines consulate in Jeddah (Migrante)</p>

Protesters camp outside the Philippines consulate in Jeddah (Migrante)

  • Joe Torres, Manila
  • Saudi Arabia
  • July 10, 2013
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A global network of rights advocates today condemned what it described as the "violent dispersal" last week of undocumented Filipino workers in Riyadh, some of whom were arrested and later allegedly tortured with electrocution at a Saudi police station.

The International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines said the dispersal was a joint action by Saudi police and Philippine embassy officials.

The workers had been holding a sit-in protest at the Philippines embassy in the Saudi capital in a bid to fast-track their repatriation to the Philippines after the Saudi government said that undocumented workers could be jailed.

A report from Migrante International said more than 40 of them claimed they were either beaten or arrested by police following the protest on July 2. 

"The [Filipino workers] were clearly under Philippine jurisdiction. They were on Philippine territory. They were not violating any Saudi laws," said Migrante leader Gary Martinez. He added that Philippine officials in the embassy should be recalled to face an inquiry following an official complaint by those who had been detained during the incident.

Filipino workers who lack proper documents to continue their stay in Saudi Arabia have been camping out in front of the Philippine embassy in Riyadh and consulate in Jeddah after the Saudi government began a crackdown on undocumented migrant workers in the kingdom early this year.

Migrante International said some 1,400 workers are currently camped outside the consulate in Jeddah, while about 2,000 are in Riyadh. Many are keen to stay and renew their documents, but some want to return home to avoid being detained.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah early this month extended an amnesty enabling illegal overseas workers to declare their work status or return home without being prosecuted. The amnesty, which was declared on April 3 and which was due to expire on July 4, has now been extended to Nov 4.

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