Human Rights Watch asked today, Tuesday, that there should be alternative means of arresting migrants held in the Gulf states pending deportation, amid health risks and global travel restrictions caused by the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The organization added that the states of the “Gulf Cooperation Council” should stop arresting undocumented expatriates, including “escaping” workers, abolish fines for overstaying their residency, and follow procedures that respect health and safety standards with regard to arrivals wishing to return to their country.
It also demanded the release of all illegal or unnecessary detainees, including anyone who could not be deported in the near future.
Michael Page, deputy director of the Middle East division at Human Rights Watch, said: “Many migrant workers in the Gulf, especially those without documents without it being their fault or fleeing corrupt business owners, are subject to prolonged detention before being deported in crowded places and unsanitary conditions. ”
“As the crisis of the Coronavirus worsens, Gulf states should take immediate measures to protect the health and rights of detainees and those working in immigration detention centers, including the release of persons and finding alternatives to detention,” he added.
The organization continued, “Infectious diseases, such as” Covid19- “caused by the Coronavirus, pose a serious threat to human groups in closed institutions, such as migrant detention centers.”
“Overcrowding is a serious problem that is being repeated in many prisons and detention centers in the Gulf countries,” the organization added.
Many of them suffer from poor health conditions and lack of food, water and medical care, and many detainees face ill-treatment by prison guards. ”
The organization noted that “the Gulf states should work with the relevant” United Nations “authorities to provide clear guidance on release, alternatives to detention, and how states can ensure adequate and safe shelter for people once they are released.”
“In some countries, employers may be punished for failing to inform the authorities when their workers” escape, “the organization said.
Human Rights Watch said that the travel ban imposed in response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, both by Gulf countries and workers’ countries, has resulted in the complete suspension of international travel in many cases, as the detention of arrivals pending deportation is no longer justified.
According to Reuters, the Saudi government’s Human Rights Commission announced on March 26 that Saudi Arabia had released 250 foreigners who had been detained for non-violent violations of immigration regulations.