Thursday, July 16, 2015

Problems in Sponsorship (Kafala) System of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Gazette has recently published an article. I am quoting whatever has been published in that article. In a recent report, NSHR “the National Society for Human Rights” has said that the Sponsorship System (kafalah) is repugnant to basic human rights. Kafalah is a system used by the Labor Ministry for employing and recruiting expatriates. NSHR’s representative says that there are a plenty of flaws in the Kafalah System and the Society is receiving continued complaints against these loopholes since 2004 (the year when this society was established). The report issued by the society states that the majority of issues, about 67.8%, being dealt by the society were the complaints being launched by expatriates working in Kingdom against the Saudi Kafeels (Sponsors). It is also mentioned that the number of cases registered in 2014 are 6 percent of the total cases the society was notified about till date. The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has said that the following violations of human rights are result of the Sponsorship (kafalah) System.

Problems in Sponsorship (Kafala) System of Saudi Arabia
  1. Kafeels (sponsors) use to keep the passport of workers until the worker needs to go out on an exit or re-entry visa. Even at that time they use to keep the workers’ residence card (iqama) in exchange of passport. It is illegal way used by the Kafeels in order to stop the worker from escape or travelling.
  2. Workers are often forced by the Kafeels to do jobs for which the workers are not recruited initially.
  3. Some Kafeels are habitual of maltreatment of workers in addition to physical and verbal torture.
  4. Workers are forced to pay unjustified monthly or annual fees to their Kafeels.
  5. Workers are restrained from enjoying some of the civil rights for example getting married or visiting friends or relatives without prior approval of their Kafeels. This power given to Kafeels under Kafalah system is misused by some Kafeels.
  6. There are some clauses in this system those violate the rules made for prevention of human trafficking.
  7. A considerable ratio of Kafeels constantly waste time of some departments with routine queries regarding issuance of visa, authentication of documents and giving them information about huroob cases (cases of runaway workers).
  8. Some Kafeels are habitual in delaying or non-payment of salary and it is a severe violation of labor laws.
  9. It is observed in some cases that workers are not given the copy of their work contract and resultantly they are unable to become aware of rights and duties mentioned in the contract. This practice is also a violation of labor laws.
  10. Some Saudi people are unable to give jobs even then they keep recruiting expatriates. They do so only to make extra money by trading in these foreign employees. 
  11. The sponsorship system gives extended privileges and rights to the Kafeels that they may abuse. It is against the teachings of Islam as it brings injustice and harassment to the workers.
  12. Labor offices delay in considering the complaints and it causes harm to the workers and their dependants as well. Resultantly, there will be no source of income for these expatriates and as they don’t have renewed and valid iqamas, their stay will be illegal and they will likely to be punished by the Ministry of Interior.
  13. Some of the Kafeels release their workers in order to work for other employers.
  14. The report also reveals that some employers and Kafeels unjustly complain about the behavior of their foreign employees. They Kafeels allege them of theft, immoral conduct, huroob (runaway) attempts and laziness in performing the assigned duties.

Source: Saudi Gazette

  1. Kafala (Sponsorship) System in Saudi Arabia
  2. Probation Rules under Saudi Labor Law
  3. Working for someone other than Kafeel
  4. Employing an Expatriate on Free Visa
  5. Dependents can work without Transfer of Sponsorship
  6. Dependent Expat Teachers not allowed to Work


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