Human Rights Watch has confirmed that Saudi Arabia is detaining hundreds of migrant workers, most of them Ethiopians, in “degrading conditions.”
The human rights organisation said in a statement on Tuesday that “Detainees are being held in very overcrowded rooms for extended periods, and the guards torture them and beat them with iron-coated sticks. This has led to three allegations of deaths in detention between October and November.”
The organisation added: “The Saudi authorities should immediately release the most vulnerable detainees, and ensure that detention is used only as an exceptional measure and as a last resort, and they must immediately end any torture and ill-treatment, and ensure that the conditions of detention comply with international standards.”
HRW published a video clip showing dozens of migrant detainees in a Saudi prison in the capital Riyadh, showing signs of torture and malnutrition.
“Saudi Arabia, one of the richest countries in the world, has no excuse to detain migrant workers in appalling conditions amid a health epidemic for months on end,” said Nadia Hardman, a researcher in the Refugee and Migrant Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.
“The video footage of people crammed together, the allegations of torture and unlawful killing are shocking, as well as the authorities’ apparent unwillingness to move to investigate the circumstances of the attacks and hold those responsible accountable,” Hardman said.