“Saudi Arabia was the last country in Arabia to abolish the legal status of slavery. This was done by a Royal Decree in November 1962.
On 2nd October, 1936, King Ibn Saud made a decree entitled ‘The Instructions concerning Traffic in Slaves’…
The text of the decree referred to above was reproduced in an annex attached to a memorandum entitled “The Abandonment by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of the Right to Manumit Slaves Presenting themselves as His Majesty’s Legation at Jedda,” transmitted by the United Kingdom Government on 8 March 1937 to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations (League document C.188.M.173.1937.VI, annex 6), as follows:
Instructions Concerning Traffic in Slaves (Promulgated on October 2nd, 1936)
Art 1. Whereas the provisions of the Islamic Law require that the subjects of treaty States shall not be enslaved or sold, it is absolutely prohibited:
In the event of any contravention of the provisions of the foregoing paragraphs, the person committing such contravention shall be liable to the following penalty:
Art. 12. It is not permitted to engage in the traffic of slaves as an agent or broker except in accordance with an official licence issued by the competent authority.
…The Government of Saudi Arabia… contributed to the suppression of this trade by making regulations in 1936 prohibiting the importation into Saudi Arabia of slaves by sea or land.
The aim of this Law is to improve the standard of the administrative work and the development in the provinces of the Kingdom. It is also aimed at maintaining security and order, and guaranteeing citizens' rights and freedom within the framework of the Sharia.
Every emir shall assume the administration of the region according to the general policy of the State in compliance with provisions of this Law and other laws and regulations. In particular, he is expected to do the following:
The State shall provide job opportunities to all able-bodied people and shall enact laws to protect both the employee and the employer.
The following terms, wherever they occur herein, shall have the meanings given opposite to each one of them unless otherwise required by the context:
1. Human Trafficking: It is the use, attachment, transportation, sheltering or receiving of any person with the purpose of exploiting him.
It is prohibited to traffic any person in any form whatsoever including coercion, threat, deception, fraud, kidnapping, abuse of power or influence, use of some power over him, exploiting his weakness, giving him financial amounts or privileges or receiving the same to acquire the approval of a person having control over another for the purpose of sexual assault, labour, coercive service, beggaring, enslaving, quasi-enslaving practices, detachment of organs or medical experimentation.
Any person who perpetrates human trafficking shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not more than fifteen years or a fine of not more than one million riyals or both.
The punishment provided for in this law shall be doubled in the following cases:
1. If the crime is committed by an organized criminal gang,
2. If it is committed against a woman or a handicapped person,
3. If it is committed against a child even if the perpetrator does not know that the victim is a child,
4. If the perpetrator uses or threatens to use a weapon,
5. If the perpetrator is a spouse of the victim, his parent, offspring or guardian or if he has control over him,
6. If the perpetrator is a law enforcement officer,
7. If it is committed by more than one person,
8. If the crime is a transnational one, or 9. If the crime results in a serious harm or permanent disability to the victim.
The victim's acceptance with regard to any of the crimes provided for herein shall not be taken into consideration.
Any person who is aware of committing or a plot to commit any of the crimes provided for herein even if he is in charge of professional confidence or if he obtains any related information or guidelines either directly or indirectly and fails to inform the competent authorities shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of not less than two years and a fine not more than one hundred thousand riyals or both.
The same punishment applied against the perpetrator shall be applied to everyone who participates in the human trafficking crime and everyone who interferes in any of the crimes provided for under articles 2, 4 and 6 hereof.
Any plot to commit any of the crimes under articles 2, 4 and 6 is punishable by full punishment.
Law for Combating Crimes of Trafficking in Persons 2009 (Royal Decree no. m/40) (PDF)
In addition to the duties provided for in this Law and the regulations and decisions issued for its implementation, the employer shall be required to:
1) Refrain from using the worker without pay and shall not, without a judicial instrument, withhold the worker’s wages or any pert thereof. The employer shall treat his workers with due respect and refrain from any action or utterances that may infringe upon their dignity and religion.
2) Give the workers the time required to exercise their rights as provided for in this Law without any deductions from their wages against such time. He may regulate the exercise of this right in a manner not detrimental to the work progress.
3) Facilitate for the employees of the competent authorities any task related to the enforcement of the provisions of this law.
Note: prohibits the employment of children under 13 years of age and restricts the working hours of children to six hours per day, during which a rest period must be granted. Children are not allowed to work for more than five consecutive hours, at night or in heavy or hazardous work. The age of 18 years is defined as the minimum age for admission to employment in the public or private sectors. A child under 13 years of age is not allowed to work even with the consent of his legal guardian.
Note: the Supreme Judicial Council issued a circular to the courts and registrars of marriage on the need to ascertain a woman’s consent to her marriage.
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