Migrant workers have been tortured and beaten while detained in an overcrowded deportation center in Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, urging authorities to put an end to abuse and release the vulnerable detainees.
Hundreds of mostly Ethiopian migrant workers are held at a deportation center in Riyadh in degrading conditions, the group said.
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Detainees said they are held in extremely overcrowded rooms and that guards have tortured and beaten them with rubber-coated metal rods, leading to at least three allegations of deaths in custody between October and November.
The majority of them were arrested because they did not hold valid residency permits.
Many migrants said that contracting COVID-19 is their major concern, as no measures to ensure social distancing or hygienic standards were taken. They had no access to shower facilities nor soap and hundreds share between two and five toilets.
They said they do not have enough room to all lie down, so some sleep during the day and others at night, while no mattresses were provided.
"Saudi Arabia, one of the world's richest countries, has no excuse for detaining migrant workers in appalling conditions, in the middle of a health pandemic, for months on end," said Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at HRW.
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In October, an Amnesty International report said Ethiopian migrants held in Saudi detention centres described torture by electric shock and beatings, deaths and suicide attempts, crowded cells and lack of food.