With the Kingdom’s laudable efforts to fight human trafficking, Saudi Arabia moved from “tier 3” to “tier 2 watch list” in the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which was published on Thursday.
This good news comes as global praise and recognition as the report is considered the most comprehensive analysis of anti-trafficking efforts by nations. AAccording to Arab News, the report included all changes across inter-ministry coordination, greater transparency and data-sharing, and “significantly increased” numbers of prosecutions and convictions under the Kingdom’s anti-trafficking laws.
“Today is about honoring the victims and potential victims of trafficking and renewing our pledge to eradicate this heinous crime,” said Awwad Al-Awwad, the chairman of the committee and president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission.
The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking oversaw the recent progress, which is supported by key international agencies such as the International Organization for Migration and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime
Dr. Awwad Bin Saleh Al-Awwad
“The strengthening of anti-trafficking measures is a major part of the Kingdom’s human-rights reform agenda, and we are happy to see that this hard work is being recognized. The wide array of reforms under way — including advances in women’s rights, penal reforms and anti-trafficking reforms — shows that the Kingdom is truly committed to making itself a better place for all those within its borders, whether here permanently or temporarily,” Al-Awwad added.
In the past year, the Kingdom launched the first National Referral Mechanism, which assesses the roles of Saudi authorities in the identification and protection of victims, and the investigation and prosecution of crimes involving human trafficking. Another milestone is the first roundtable discussion, which went over anti-trafficking policies with countries that supply labor, and worked with nearly 3,000 recruitment agencies to ensure best practices and international standards are adopted.
“The improvement of the ranking of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in this year’s Trafficking in Persons Report is recognition of the concerted efforts the government has made this year to improve its response structure,” said Carmela Godeau, the International Organization for Migration’s regional director for MENA. “IOM is glad to be a key partner in the efforts, and expects to build on recent momentum for years to come."
“The UNODC is glad to celebrate with our partners in Saudi Arabia the momentous improvements and notable successes we have achieved in the past year. The tangible achievements of the Kingdom reflect its commitment to engage with the UN in a concrete partnership that moves toward even greater reform. Despite the COVID-19 lockdowns, our collaborative work and training continues at an accelerated pace,” said Judge Hatem Fouad, the office’s representative for the Gulf region.
In the spirit of celebration, Al-Awwad asserted that the Kingdom still has a long way to go. “We are the first to admit that there are some areas in which we can still improve – but we are confident that we are on the right trajectory,” he added.