Sunday, May 11, 2008

As Saudi Govt. implements ‘finger-printing’ on all expatriates

Press Release
May 11, 2008

As Saudi Govt. implements ‘finger-printing’ on all expatriates
Migrante urges RP Officials to extend special assistance to undocumented, over-staying, and ran away OFWs

An alliance of overseas Filipino Workers’ organization in the Middle East today said that the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Consulate General should be prepared and ready its office to extend assistance to undocumented OFWs as the Saudi government had decided to implement mandatory finger-printing on all expatriate workers starting yesterday, May 10, 2008.

“Local media reported that the Saudi government through its Director General of the Passport Department, strengthening its internal security measures just like other governments in the Middle East, has opted to implement finger-printing on all migrant workers effective May 10, 2008; such will put the lives and jobs of undocumented and over-staying OFWs at big risk,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said that finger-printing requirement in the issuance of residence permit called Iqama in Saudi is not new as several Middle Eastern governments have already put in placed similar requirement such as Qatar that has its Pataqa, only to be issued to a migrant worker after “finger-printing” has been done; while the UAE government has its eye-scan mandatory requirement.

“We have been receiving reports from our members and OFW friends that in fact some big companies in Saudi Arabia that employed large numbers of migrant workers has already introduced “finger-printing” on all its employees last year,” said Mario Ben, Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS-Migrante Riyadh chapter) Chairperson.

The migrant leader said that any government has the inherent right to protect its own nationals and maintain public order but he stressed that it should not be at the expense of migrant workers rights’ violations.

“We are much concerned on our fellow OFWs who have been over staying, undocumented, and ran away from their employer as the finger-printing requirement will be implemented in the entire Kingdom; the Saudi government may soon require all companies to facilitate the finger-printing of their respective expatriate workers, not only those who are newly arrived,” Mario Ben added.

Andrew M. Ociones, Migrante-Saudi Arabia chapter Chairperson said that Saudi Immigration Police is continuously undertaking selective raids on the alleged houses and shelter of undocumented and ran away migrant workers including OFWs in Jeddah and Riyadh .

Migrante members in Jeddah reported that last April 19, the Immigration Police raided three (3) adjacent buildings where several Indonesians and Bangladeshi along with their children and other migrant workers numbering to 100 have been arrested and were taken inside the 2 buses going to the detention center.

“With the implementation of “finger-printing” in Saudi Arabia, we are worried that all ran away and stranded will now be classified and treated as ordinary criminals as such it is leading to “criminalization” status of undocumented, ran away and stranded at deportation centers and resource centers in the entire Kingdom,” Ociones added.

In lieu of the implementation of ‘finger-printing’ requirement in Saudi Arabia , Migrante is urging the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah to prepare a pro-active action plan.

“The conduct of diplomatic talks to explore the possibility of granting amnesty to some undocumented, and those who are employed to other company but not under its sponsorship, and those who are ran away and distress OFWs seeking refuge and temporarily staying on their relatives and friends; to facilitate the immediate repatriation of the less than 200 stranded OFWs in Riyadh and remaining more than 100 OFWs in Jeddah deportation center are among of the actions our officials could undertake,” Monterona added.

“Our Officials abroad should not wait time to come where a distress and ran away OFW has been charged, detained and be treated like an ordinary criminal whose only option is to leave his or her abusive and errant employer,” Monterona ended. # # #

Andrew M. Ociones, Chairperson
Migrante-Saudi Arabia
Mobile No.: 00966 508 94 4426

Mario Ben, Chairperson
Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS-Migrante) Riyadh Chapter
Mobile No.: 00966 565 74 5214

John Leonard Monterona
regional coordinator
Migrante Middle East
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

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