5 Pinoys jailed in Saudi weekly on petty crime raps | Global News

5 Pinoys jailed in Saudi weekly on petty crime raps

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:21 AM November 26, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—An average of five overseas Filipino workers are put behind bars weekly for various petty crimes in Saudi Arabia, according to a migrants’ rights advocacy group.

John Leonard Monterona, regional director of Migrante-Middle East, disclosed on Friday that his group had counted 96 OFWs arrested between May and September this year and held in different Saudi jails, most of them on petty crime charges.

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“The data would mean that on the average, there are five OFWs put behind bars weekly,” Monterona said.

Monterona said that 58 of the offenders were detained for “liquor possession,” 25 on drug-related charges, seven on immorality charges and on theft charges.

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“Others were charged with physical injuries, seduction of minors, trespassing, road accident and falsification of document,” Monterona said.

He said that 78 of the 96 inmates were detained at the Malaz Central jail in Riyadh, Saudi’s capital city, 10 were in Dammam jail, six  in Al-Hassa jail, three in Qatiff, Tuqba jail, three also in Al-Hair jail and one in Jubail Central jail.

Monterona said almost all, or 98 percent of the Filipino inmates, were still waiting for court decisions though half of them had been arrested since May 2011.

“Petty crimes are punishable with imprisonment ranging from six months to one year plus a number of lashes,” Monterona said as he cited similar cases his group had previously handled. “Most of the 96 OFW inmates have been in jail for five to seven months already still waiting for a court decision.”

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Monterona said some of the OFW inmates in Malaz jail claimed that the Philippine Embassy did not hire a lawyer or had provided legal assistance to them.

He said Philippine government officials in Riyadh must pro-actively represent the OFW inmates in court to speed up resolution of their cases.

“We would like to reiterate for the nth time our call to the Aquino government through the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) to consider hiring local Shariah lawyers on retention basis to render legal assistance to all jailed OFWs in Saudi Arabia, including the smooth facilitation of their release and deportation once they have completed their respective jail terms,” Monterona added.

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He also urged OFWs to avoid committing offenses.

“The commission of petty crimes such as liquor possession, theft, and immorality could be avoided. We only need to impose strict self-discipline and be vigilant. We are here to work, for our families and children,” he said.

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TAGS: Migrante-Middle East, Overseas Filipino workers, petty crimes in Saudi Arabia
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