Saudi Arabia Announces Increased Penalties for Human Traffickers

July 14, 2009

[Washington] --  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers ratified a law on July 13 that adopted a tougher stance on human trafficking. The new law will ban all forms of human trafficking and put in place more severe consequences, including a sentence of up to 15 years and/or a fine of up to $267,000.

“Saudi Arabia will spare no effort to prevent all types of mistreatment against human beings and will pursue and punish those involved in such criminal offences to the fullest extend of the law,” stated Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz.

The law includes a more severe penalty if the victims are women, minors, or persons with special needs. Penalties were also increased for perpetrators found to be a guardian or to have had authority over the victim; an official of the regulations' enforcement; or to have exploited a close relative of the victim.

The new law defines human trafficking as: coercion of a person, threat, deception, deceit or abduction, misuse of position, influence or authority against a person, taking advantage of their weakness, or giving or receiving money or enticements to gain the approval a person for sexual acts, work, coercive service, begging, slavery, practices similar to slavery, organ removal or performance of medical tests on a person.

The Council of Ministers also announced they would establish a ministerial-level committee in the Human Rights Commission composes of representatives from the ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Social Affairs, Labor, Culture and Information, and the Human Rights Commission,  that is responsible for combating human trafficking.