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Saudi Calls US Human Trafficking Criticism Baseless | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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RIYADH-Saudi Arabia said on Saturday it strongly disagreed with a State Department report naming it as a top offender in human trafficking.

&#34We are surprised by the contents of the report, and we disagree with most of what has been mentioned,&#34 said Prince Dr. Turki bin Mohammad bin Saud Al-kabeer,, undersecretary for political affairs at the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

&#34The rules and regulations of Saudi Arabia prohibit exploitation and trafficking of people. Our religion also does not accept this,&#34 he told Reuters news agency.

More than 6 million of Saudi Arabia”s 22 million people are foreigners working in the kingdom. Other Gulf Arab states named also have large expatriate populations.

Prince Turki said violations of Saudi rules may occur — as in anywhere else in the world — but the government had taken significant steps to help bring offenders to justice and planned to introduce new rules for foreign workers soon.

Efforts to combat human trafficking included the establishment of a domestic non-governmental organization, the National Human Rights Association (NHRA), which was looking into cases of reported abuse, he said.

The Labour Ministry had also established committees around the country to deal with any issues or complaints, he said.

&#34We will study the report and respond to it,&#34 he added.

Officials from other Gulf States mentioned in the report were not immediately available to comment.

In an interview with the Saudi Gazette on Saturday, an NHRA official said around 2,000 complaints had been received since the independent body was set up just over a year ago.

Only a &#34small handful&#34 had been settled so far and at least 30 percent of the total involved domestic violence, the paper quoted Suhaila Hammad, who heads the organization”s research and analysis section, as saying.