Saudi Arabia gets recognition for its efforts to fight human trafficking

09/07/20

This week, Saudi Arabia took a monumental leap forward in international recognition of its efforts to combat human trafficking.

In the US Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, Saudi Arabia jumped from a Tier 3 country in 2019 to the Tier 2 Watchlist in 2020 with respect to major improvements in transparency and coordination with global partners, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to fight this crime.

Following the announcement, IOM noted that over the past year “significant and concerted efforts have been made to improve the [Saudi] government’s response, and the upgraded ranking in 2020 reflects this.”

Saudi Arabia has evolved from a country with a limited political infrastructure for combating human trafficking to one with a cohesive governmental framework dedicated to targeting trafficking in persons. The Saudi National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), founded in line with the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, is the Kingdom’s nerve center for combating human trafficking and brings together members from the ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Labor and Social Development, Culture and Media, and the Human Rights Commission around one table.

The work of the NCCHT ranges from identifying potential victims, preventing their revictimization and repatriating them to their home countries or legally resettling them in the Kingdom. This mandate comes in addition to developing public awareness campaigns and training other governmental entities to spot traffickers and their targets.

Saudi Arabia’s improved ranking celebrates the tireless work of NCCHT, which unveiled its ground-breaking National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in March 2020. Developed in coordination with IOM and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the NRM clarifies the role of various governmental entities and outlines best practices in the identification and referral of victims to the appropriate authorities. An integral aspect of the NRM is the training of key professionals responsible for recognizing warning signs of trafficking.

Remarkably the Kingdom ensured that NCCHT’s work has continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic. These training programs are being offered remotely, with NCCHT members and other professionals undergoing virtual training on combating human trafficking through the “four Ps:” prevention, the prosecution of perpetrators, the protection of victims, and the promotion of partnerships on the local, national, and international levels.

“The fact that the program continues even during the pandemic shows the commitment and determination of the Kingdom to improve the national response to [human] trafficking,” said Dr. Hatem Aly, UNODC Regional Representative for the Gulf.

This timing is key. The coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a rise in unemployment and economic hardship, threatens to exacerbate worker exploitation and increase vulnerable individuals’ risk of falling victim to unsavory and illegal labor practices. The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime warns that pandemics often cause governments to reduce funding for anti-trafficking activities and victim support funds, while organized crime networks seize upon opportunities to take advantage of desperate individuals willing to accept employment in the grey or black markets. Sex trafficking and labor trafficking, crimes that rely on uneven monitoring and enforcement and weak political protections, can worsen during times of crisis.

Positions awaiting job seekers, particularly women, can often turn out to be non-existent or completely different from what was originally promised. Combating this practice requires that employees can break contracts with visa sponsors or informal employers and seek help from the authorities in cases of deceit or exploitation.

It is promising that Saudi Arabia is working to give employees more power to prevent abuse.

In 2019, the Kingdom referred only 54 cases of trafficking for further investigation by the competent authorities. It is clear that despite the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia has continued to dedicate resources to protecting victims in the short term while addressing the broader economic and regulatory landscapes to prevent abuse in all forms. Establishing additional legal safeguards and reforming the sponsorship system to disincentivize potential traffickers is the first major step in meeting international best practices.

Saudi Arabia’s recent elevation from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 Watchlist is an important milestone in recognizing the country’s progress towards a more proactive model in combating human trafficking. It is also a reminder of the country’s determination to continue improving in this regard.

In next year’s ranking, it will be worth noting the Kingdom’s efforts to combat human trafficking in light of the COVID-19 crisis. While criminal networks may adapt, Saudi Arabia is making long-term investments in its ability to deter traffickers and intercept this crime—pandemic or no pandemic.

• Madison Clough is a strategic communications professional residing in the Gulf. She holds a master’s degree in international security from George Mason University and specializes in communications on geopolitical and cultural issues.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Preserving heritage means securing the future, says Princess Haifa

Time: 05 July, 2020

Princess Haifa bint Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to UNESCO said there was a shared belief that education was a ‘right for everyone, that preserving heritage means securing the future.’ (Supplied)
  • Saudi Arabia is at the 209th session to discuss international issues related to the fields of education, science and culture

PARIS: Princess Haifa bint Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to UNESCO, said that changes can only be faced with global efforts to achieve the common goals of promoting peace, building cultural bridges between nations, and empowering societies to guarantee a better future.

Saudi Arabia recently participated in the 209th session of the UNESCO Executive Council at the agency’s Paris headquarters. The Kingdom was represented at the session by Princess Haifa and a team of 26 Saudi experts from different sectors that have activities related to the scope of UNESCO’s work, such as education, culture, energy, environment, and training.

Princess Haifa said: “Despite our different cultures and languages, we share our belief that education is a right for everyone, that preserving heritage means securing the future, and that innovation and science are the bridge that will pull us out of this pandemic the world today is living.”

She said that the Kingdom supported African countries and was ready to share its experiences in various UNESCO fields, in addition to supporting action plans related to developing islands as one of its priorities in exchanging experiences, especially since the Kingdom is one of the most advanced countries in the world in the field of water desalination.

Reference was made to the Kingdom’s support for international growth and stability through the G20 presidency, specifically with regard to ensuring the continuity of education in crises, the continuation of efforts to achieve climate adaptation worldwide, and solidarity with the members of the G20 in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a member state of the UNESCO Executive Council, Saudi Arabia is at the 209th session to discuss international issues related to the fields of education, science and culture. These will be evaluated and decided upon, and the executive decisions assigned to them will be voted on, in cooperation with the council’s member states.

The Kingdom’s participation in the meetings of the UNESCO Executive Council also comes as part of its permanent presence in the international cultural and educational organization since its foundation in 1946.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi donation to support coronavirus fight at Karachi hospitals

Time: 01 July, 2020

Saudi Consul General Bandar Fahad Al-Dayel and SABIC Pakistan general manager Saleh Ali Al-Zahrani present a cheque to Dr. Abdul Bari, CEO of the Indus Hospital, in Karachi on June 30, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Saudi Consulate in Karachi)
  • Donation is part of SABIC Pakistan’s corporate responsibility program
  • The two Karachi hospitals are on the forefront of Pakistan’s COVID-19 response

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Aramco subsidiary SABIC Pakistan on Tuesday donated over Rs8 million for the coronavirus fight of two hospitals in Karachi.

Saudi Consul General Bandar Fahad Al-Dayel and SABIC general manager Saleh Ali Al-Zahrani presented Rs4.2 million ($25,000) cheques to Dr. Abdul Bari, CEO of the Indus Hospital, and Dr. Adeeb-ul-Hasan Rizvi, head of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).

The two Karachi hospitals are on the forefront of Pakistan’s COVID-19 response.

The donation is part of SABIC’s corporate social responsibility program, the Saudi consulate in Karachi said in a statement.

SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) is a multinational chemical manufacturing company, a subsidiary of the kingdom’s state-run oil company Saudi Aramco.

Last week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a phone conversation with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, detailed the challenges Pakistan is facing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Wednesday, 213,470 known COVID-19 cases were recorded in Pakistan, with over 4,133 new infections reported in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed.

At least 4,395 Pakistanis have died from the virus and 2,700 are in critical condition. Over 100,800 are known to have recovered from the disease.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Political solution ‘only way’ to end Syrian war: Saudi foreign minister

Time: 30 June, 2020

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan was addressing the fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.” (SPA)
  • “A political solution would be the only way to put an end to the war,” Saudi FM says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday told a high-profile international conference that only political dialogue could resolve the crisis in Syria.

Speaking at the virtual meeting, co-chaired by the EU and the UN, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said: “A political solution, in line with the (UN) Security Council’s Resolution 2254 (calling for a cease-fire and political settlement in Syria) and the Geneva 1 Conference, would be the only way to put an end to the war.”

He was addressing the fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region,” being held 10 years after the start of the Syrian conflict which has devastated the country and resulted in major issues surrounding regional and international security and stability.

Prince Faisal reiterated the Kingdom’s full support for the efforts of the UN, its special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, the resumption of the work of the constitutional committee, and all initiatives aimed at stopping the fighting in Syria.

“As part of its contribution to a political solution, the Kingdom hosted the Riyadh 1 and 2 conferences, which led to the establishment of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) and will continue to work on unifying the Syrian opposition.

“Iran continues to pose a significant threat to Syria’s future and identity. If some international parties have interests, Iran has a dangerous regional project, which aims to dominate using sectarian militias and causing civil wars that destroy peoples and homelands,” the prince said.

He pointed out that sectarian militias and terrorist groups were “two sides of the same coin,” creating chaos and destruction, and prolonging the crises and he stressed the importance of combating terrorist organizations in all forms.

“The Kingdom has contributed to alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people by hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian brothers on its territory. They are treated as equals to Saudi citizens when it comes to job opportunities and healthcare services, while more than 100,000 Syrian students are enrolled in Saudi schools and universities,” the minister added.

Saudi Arabia has to date contributed $1.150 billion to support programs to help millions of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon carried out by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) in coordination with the concerned governments.

Prince Faisal told conference delegates that the reconstruction of Syria was dependent on launching a real political settlement process led by the UN, because the repatriation of refugees required “ensuring the necessary conditions to their return according to international standards acknowledged by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia steps up fight against human trafficking: UNODC

28/06/20

Judge Hatem Aly. (Twitter photo)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is stepping up the fight against people trafficking, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s regional representative for the GCC region.

“The Kingdom has adopted substantive reforms in combating trafficking in persons . . . UNODC highly applauds the Human Rights Commission’s efforts and values its partnership,” Judge Hatem Aly said.

The judge applauded Saudi Arabia’s anti-trafficking-in-persons efforts, especially the legal and institutional reforms implemented over the past year.

Aly noted the work of the Kingdom’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, chaired by the president of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), on creating the National Referral Mechanism, the first national coordination framework to help in the identification of victims, provision of necessary care and prosecution of the perpetrators of such crimes.

In a statement to the press, Aly said that these combined efforts contributed to advancing the Kingdom’s status in UN assessments and the assessments of other countries on compliance to the measures related to curb trafficking in persons.

This was reflected in the most recent Trafficking in Persons Report issued by the US Department of State, which ranked Saudi Arabia among the countries to succeed in developing a national system that addresses trafficking-in-persons challenges.

Aly said: “We shall continue to work toward additional achievements under the partnership between the UNODC and the Human Rights Commission. We are proud of what has been accomplished here. Not only did our training activities and workshops continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have actually accelerated our training schedule by leveraging virtual platforms.”

Aly said that the partnership between UNODC and HRC will continue until the Saudi model is complete and until Saudi Arabia is able to present itself as a successful model on the regional and international levels.

“The Saudi model we are creating will be the product of our joint efforts to develop a national Saudi system to combat trafficking in persons and offer the victims of these heinous crimes the care they need and the compassion they deserve,” he said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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EU raps Houthis for targeting Saudi civilians

Time: 26 June, 2020

Armed Yemeni men hold their weapons as they gather in the capital Sanaa to show their support to the Houthis. (File/AFP)

BRUSSELS: The EU has condemned Houthis for targeting civilians, after a spokesperson said Saudi Arabia was targeted by drones and ballistic missile attacks earlier this week.
The condemnation follows an increase in fighting in Yemen, where civilians, including children, continue to bear the brunt of the violence.
All attacks against civilians are unacceptable, said the EU spokesperson.
The latest cross-border attack is contrary to the efforts of a UN special envoy to mediate a cease-fire and resume political negotiations, he said.

The EU reiterated its call for all sides to enter political talks through the UN and said it continues to support the efforts of the UN special envoy.

Meanwhile, the Arab Parliament strongly condemned repeated attacks by Houthi militias on the Kingdom.

It called on the UN to “oblige the Houthis to stop these cowardly aggressive actions targeting civilians and civilian objects in Saudi Arabia.”

In a resolution, the parliament held the Iranian regime fully responsible for its flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions and its continued supply of smart weapons, ballistic missiles and drones to Houthi militias, with the aim of destabilizing regional security and perpetuating chaos in Yemen.

The parliament highlighted the need to follow the Riyadh agreement, signed between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council in November 2019.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discusses international developments with Emmanuel Macron

Time: 17 June, 2020

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call from the French president. (SPA)

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed regional and international developments with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday.

The crown prince received a call from Macron in which they reviewed relations and discussed a number of issues of common concern, Saudi Press Agency reported.

This article was first published in Arab News

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LIVE: Arab countries in global brotherhood amid coronavirus pandemic

13/06/20

Bosnian airport workers unload cargo from a Boeing 747-400 airplane owned by the United Arab Emirates government after it landed at Sarajevo International Airport, on May 27, 2020, carrying a donation of 20 tons of medical equipment and protective gear, donated to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the UAE’s prime minister to aid in fighting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. (File/AFP)
  • Saudi Arabia has sent medical supplies to Syrian refugees in Jordan
  • The UAE has dispatched 9 metric tons of medical aid and 10,000 testing kits to Costa Rica

DUBAI: Arab countries are lending a helping hand as far as the Caribbean to help countries deal with coronavirus outbreaks through the timely delivery of medical aid.

Saudi Arabia has sent medical supplies to Syrian refugees in Jordan to help them prevent further spread of the easily transmitted virus, state news agency SPA reported. A week earlier, clinics received over 6,437 patients who were assisted with the necessary medications provided by the Kingdom.

The UAE, meanwhile, has dispatched 9 metric tons of medical aid and 10,000 testing kits to Costa Rica to help the country in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak, state news agency WAM reported. The aid is said to assist about 9,000 medical professionals.

Saturday, June 13, 2020 (All times in GMT

https://twitter.com/arabnews/status/1271835158421831680/photo/1

15:30 – Pakistan’s well-loved former cricket captain and legendary all-rounder Shahid Afridi revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19 in a tweet on Saturday.

12:30 – Saudi Arabia announced 39 more deaths from the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 3,366 new cases of the disease on Saturday.

11:52 – The UAE has confirmed 491 new coronavirus cases, 815 recoveries, bringing the total number of infected cases to 41,990 with 26,761 recoveries.

10:40 – India has reported another record daily spike in coronavirus infections as the country passes the grim milestone of 300,000 cases.

India’s coronavirus caseload jumped by about 100,000 cases in a week, which coincided with the reopening of shopping malls, houses of worship and restaurants. (AFP)

10:32 – Qatar has confirmed 1,828 new coronavirus cases, raising total to 78,416.

09:54 – Iran has recorded 71 coronavirus deaths and 2,410 new cases.

09:24 – Malaysia has reported 43 new coronavirus cases, 8,445 in total with one death.

09:00 – Oman has reported 1,006 new coronavirus cases, raising total to 22,077.

08:13 – A total of 834 people recovered from coronavirus in Kuwait, raising total recoveries to 25,882. The country has also recorded four coronavirus deaths and 514 new cases, raising total infections to 35,466 with 289 fatalities.

08:05 – Afghanistan has recorded five coronavirus fatalities and 556 new cases.

08:03 – Sudan has confirmed 149 new coronavirus cases, raisingthe total number of infections to 6,879.

08:02 – France said it will reopen its borders starting July 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

08:02 – Russia reported 8,706 new coronavirus cases, bringing its cumulative infection tally to 520,129.
The authorities said 114 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, raising the official national death toll to 6,829.

06:55 – Iraq’s Kurdistan has registered 112 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases to 2,005.

06:24 – Humanitarian workers and medical personnel believe the coronavirus is spreading unchecked and untracked through Sudan’s most marginalized territory. READ MORE

05:00 – The top US infectious disease official cautioned that the “blips” of rising coronavirus hospitalizations being reported by some states could get out of control if robust contact tracing regimes are not put in place. FOR THE STORY

04:39 – Australia’s largest state of New South Wales reported its first locally transmitted COVID-19 case since late May, a sign the threat from the pandemic is far from over as social distancing restrictions continue to be eased.

04:30 – China has mobilized its army and fast-tracked tests in the global race to find a coronavirus vaccine, but its labs also have an image tarnished by past health scandals to overcome. Six months after the first cases emerged in the city of Wuhan, China has moved quickly to develop a vaccine and is involved in several of the dozen or so international clinical trials currently under way.

04:22 – Brazil claimed the unenviable position of having the second-highest coronavirus death toll worldwide behind the United States, where several states have posted record daily case totals, signaling the crisis is far from over.

03:08 – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 348 to 186,022, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by 18 to 8,781 the tally showed.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Arab stars Sofia Boutella, Sonia Ben Ammar join protests in US and France

Time: 08 June, 2020

Tunisian model Sonia Ben Ammar shared images from the Paris protests on Sunday. (Instagram)

DUBAI: Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets all across the world in the past few weeks to protest the killings of African-American citizens George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police. Among the protesters was a handful of celebrities.

Franco-Algerian actress Sofia Boutella joined the demonstrations in Hollywood on Sunday, which she documented by way of her Instagram Stories.

It wasn’t her first time showing solidarity with the protesters. The “Atomic Blonde” star also joined the Los Angeles demonstrations for George Floyd on May 31.

French-Tunisian model and singer Sonia Ben Ammar wrote to her 742,000 Instagram followers that she was “proud of my city (and all the cities) coming together peacefully and unified,” alongside a series of images from the Paris protests, which also took place on Sunday.

The 21-year-old joined demonstrators to demand justice for Adama Traoré, a Malian-French man who died in custody after being apprehended by police, in addition to the killings of Floyd, Taylor and other Black Americans.

In one of the images, Ben Ammar can be seen holding up a sign that reads “I see you, I hear you, I stand with you #BlackLivesMatter.”

Ben Ammar also made sure to document the demonstrations by way of her Instagram Stories.

Not only did demonstrators call for justice in Hollywood and Paris, but protestors have been hitting the streets in London, Berlin, Toronto and all across the US to express their frustration.

Among the handful of celebrities and influencers demanding justice for the lives lost due to police brutality in the US was Moroccan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam.

The 23-year-old catwalk star took to Instagram last week to share images from the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in Amsterdam’s Dam Square.

Other celebrities taking part in protests across the globe include pop star Ariana Grande, actors Timothée Chalamet, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, singers Kehlani and Halsey, model Emily Ratajkowski, and rappers Kanye West, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.

Athletes, including NBA stars Demar Derozan and Russell Westbrook also showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, taking to the streets of Compton on Sunday to protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall: ‘I was bullied for being Arab’

06/06/20

The singer’s maternal grandfather is Yemeni and maternal grandmother Egyptian. (Getty)

DUBAI: Girl group Little Mix’s star Jade Thirlwall has opened up about bullying she experienced as a teenager due to her Arab roots.

Speaking on the BBC “No Country For Young Women” podcast, the 2011 “X-Factor” finalist, whose maternal grandfather is Yemeni and maternal grandmother Egyptian, said that she felt “ashamed” of her background.

“When I went to secondary school, I was literally one of three people of color in the school,” the 27-year-old music sensation, whose father is British, said.

“I remember one time I got pinned down in the toilets and they put a bindi spot on my forehead; it was horrific.

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look in the notebook.

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“I have constantly had this inner battle of not really knowing who I am, or where I fit in, or what community I fit into,” she said.

The singer recalled that she would put white powder on her face “to whiten” herself when performing on stage at her school.

After joining Little Mix, she “subconsciously” did not want to talk about her heritage for fear of being disliked.

“I think because I was bullied quite badly in school because of the color of my skin and for being Arab, I wasn’t very proud of who I was,” Thirlwall explained.

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category is: 80s realness 📷 @madison_phipps

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“I would hate to talk about my race and heritage and not say the right things,” she added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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