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Henk, sorry no local law

Reader comment on item: The Scandal of U.S.-Saudi Relations
in response to reader comment: confiscation of US passports in Saudi Arabia by American companies

Submitted by Ed Bull (United States), Apr 21, 2006 at 02:01

Henk, sorry no local law

Neither the Department of State nor the Embassy in Riyadh has been able to produce the relevant language from Saudi code legitimizing passport confiscation by private industry.

This is not surprising, because the language does not exist. The Department of State's Report on Human Rights Practices 2005, (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61698.htm), states that "the Basic Law prohibits employers from retaining foreign workers' passports; however, in practice most sponsors reportedly often retained possession of foreign workers' passports." It continues: "The law prohibits employers from holding their employees' passports without the employee's consent; however, this law was not well known to foreign employees and, as a result, was frequently violated." The assertions of the Department of State, the Embassy in Riyadh and the Human Rights Report is problematic.

On February 9, 2006, the Saudi Labor Court System was petitioned to intervene on a confiscated passport event. The Saudi Labor Court made it clear that a passport confiscated by a private company was considered "stolen property." They demanded that the CSC / CSCA General Manager return it immediately. While the Saudi Labor Court System should be applauded, its decision highlights further the problems caused by the reluctance of U.S. diplomats to stand up for the rights of their citizens.

Submitting....

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