Press Release

IOM Supports Training of Saudi Frontline Workers in Combatting Trafficking in Persons

16 June 2020

Riyadh - Saudi Arabia: IOM and the Saudi Human Rights Commission have resumed this week their training programme for frontline workers, for the identification and referral of Victims Of Trafficking (VOT) and for ensuring continuity in protection assistance. 

The programme, launched in January 2020 with the will of the Government of Saudi Arabia to strengthen responses to VOT, aims at enhancing the capacities of more than 400 key workers in the fields of labour inspection, hotlines, shelters, labour committees, civil society organizations and labour courts. 

IOM Chief of Mission for Bahrain, Mohamed El Zarkani said “These trainings, and the knowledge and skills developed through them, constitute the cornerstone of counter-trafficking response. When frontline workers are equipped and confident to identify people subject to or at risk of trafficking, the key structures and responses in place to support them can be activated. The Government has recognized the significant importance of capacitating its staff, and civil society, in the fight against trafficking in persons”. 

The trainings are just one of the activities being driven by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), which is chaired by the President of the Human Rights Commission, Awwad Alawwad. In partnership with IOM and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the NCCHT is making key anti-trafficking reforms and investing in expertise in the areas of prevention, protection and prosecution, to ensure that potential victims of trafficking are identified and assisted, while those responsible for the crimes are apprehended and prosecuted. 

In this context, the NCCHT has made several significant achievements in recent months, most notably the launch of the National Referral Mechanism in March 2020, which provides a national framework for the coordination of counter-trafficking efforts. 

COVID-19 has not only threatened to derail global efforts to combat trafficking in persons, but also exacerbated the situation for those at risk of falling victim to the crime. As the combatting of COVID-19 has necessarily restricted services and access to public spaces, vulnerable persons at risk of trafficking have been placed in an even more precarious situation around the world. 

The Government of Saudi Arabia has recognized this increased risk and responded accordingly, with the provision of universal COVID-19-related medical care, the release of non-violent immigration violators from detention facilities and the undertaking of a comprehensive information campaign in 12 languages to ensure widespread awareness about the pandemic. 

Awwad Alawwad, Chair of the NCCHT, stated, “The Committee’s particular focus over the past several months has been to ensure the protection of those already vulnerable, to ensure they do not become further victimized in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our invaluable trainings with IOM underline the Committee’s and the Kingdom’s commitment combatting trafficking in persons on a global level, hand in hand with our international partners. The recommencement of these trainings is a practical way to make sure frontline workers have the skills they need to ensure they can provide much needed protection services.” 

For further information, please contact: Amy Edwards, Head of Migrant Protection and Assistance, IOM Bahrain, Email:  

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