AS DELIVERED by Foreign Service Officer, Valerie Ullrich
The United States welcomes the delegation of Saudi Arabia.
We commend Saudi Arabia for allowing women to vote and run in 2015 municipal elections, and for appointing 30 women to the Consultative Council, and we support efforts that promote equality of all citizens.
We are encouraged by “Protection Against Abuse” legislation, criminalizing domestic abuse and improving protections for domestic workers. However, we remain concerned with employer abuses of foreign workers, which can lead to cases of forced labor.
We are also concerned by restrictions on freedom of association, which prevent establishment of independent groups and unions. Undue restrictions inconsistent with basic freedoms of religion and expression remain a concern.
We note that Saudi authorities continue to detain individuals without due process in security-related cases.
We recommend that Saudi Arabia:
- Protect all workers from abuse by prosecuting perpetrators of labor abuses, adopting laws to protect victims, and better apprising foreign workers of their legal rights and remedies;
- Adopt laws to protect freedoms of association, expression, and religion and give all individuals a legal basis to form NGOs without interference;
- And finally, ensure that all individuals are afforded due process of law, informed of charges brought against them, and given a timely and transparent trial.
Thank you, Mr. President.