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Negligence is the Saudi Authorities’ Sword Held over the Heads of the “Bidoun”

01They are deprived of their rights to identities and documentation and prevented from education, work, medical care and registration of marriage. They are not criminals, terrorist or aggressors, they are simply the “Bidoun” in Saudi Arabia, they were born in it, resided in it, and contributed in its construction with had work over three decades, but they were deprived of the most important privileges enjoyed by any citizen in his country.

While some officials deem it shameful to call a wide and a “dear” social group the “Bidoun” because it is considered a major derogation of their humanity, and thus they replace it with the word “people of the displaced tribes”, but they in turn, are not yet tired of giving false promises to solve and address the situations of this oppressed group of people and thus naturalize them. Unlike most countries, the Saudi State ignores the citizens who have always belonged to its land by descent, loyalty, language, habits, etc., while it embraces and naturalizes some intruders simply because they have fulfilled the requirements of residence of ten years without the conditions of birth and permanent residence (Article 14) of the Saudi Nationality Law.  

In the past few days, through a campaign launched by human rights activists and defendants, the different newspapers and social media wrote about many tragic stories experienced by the Bidoun families, and the oppression practiced against their individuals whether in terms of public employments in which they are not allowed to work in public sector, or even in private sector, where only few of them could find jobs, thus making them easy prey for those who want to exploit them in suspicious or humiliating acts.  As for the procedures of registration of marriage from a Bidoun person, it would require the approval of the Ministry of Interior and in case the approval is obtained, the transactions shall be transferred to the courts for the confirmation of marriage, while citizens are only required to register the marriage legitimately by any authorized official without the need to obtain the approval of the Ministry of Interior. With respect to health care, the public hospitals refuse to admit the Bidoun patients and register the new born babies for those who do not bear identity cards or passports, which makes the Bidoun subject to serious challenges in this respect. The Bidoun also face difficulty in the educational admissions and in undergoing some examinations which require a computer number such as the achievement test and the test of capacity and lots of them are not allowed to register their children in schools or access to basic education.

In this regard, the Saudi Organization for Human Rights and Freedoms considers that the grave humanitarian suffering of the Bidoun is mainly due to the negligence and the disregard of the Saudi authorities which are manifested through the following:

•  The absence of census and counting the number of the Bidoun: Their sufferings and the serious violations practiced against them through decades did not urge the concerned authorities to assume their responsibilities, or at least count the number of the Bidoun who are living on its territory. Hence, they have never been counted until today only by what has been monitored by the official National Association for Human Rights through complaints it has received throughout 10 years since the year 2004, in which they reached 2847 cases. Whereas, based on the estimations of some activists, the number of the Bidoun ranged between 1.5 to 2 million people. One of those interested in the Bidoun cases confirms that the number is much more and it might reach 3 million people.

•  Procrastination and tergiversation in the implementation of some regulations and decisions: In June 19, 2001, Order no. 24924 was issued, allowing anyone of the Bidoun group having wrong information in name, tribe or family to amend it. All Bidoun tribes benefited of this Order, and by virtue of it, many data have been rectified and some of them got the approval to obtain national identity cards, but they are still waiting for the termination of the administrative procedures. Consequently, the problem has been aggravated and the number of people who do not have national ID’s or even personal or official documents increased.

•  The absence of the system of naturalization of the Bidoun in the light of adopting a system for naturalization of the foreigners:  The systems of naturalization have set out terms and conditions in which their implementation might deprive this wide group of people from obtaining the nationality of their country and kept them under the mercy of issuing a new system fully regulating their provisions and situations, and this has not happened yet. Therefore, this puts them in a critical situation at the legal level, since, in Saudi Arabia, there is a law for granting the foreigners the Saudi nationality in accordance with clear conditions and regulations. For instance, in the public system of naturalization which is confined to foreigners without the Bidoun, there is a clear discrimination since in case the husband is a Saudi citizen, the Bidoun woman and her children are allowed to obtain the Saudi nationality. However, the Bidoun man who is married to a Saudi woman, is excluded he and his children from obtaining the nationality.

In the light of this bitter reality whose consequences are being aggravated with time, the Saudi Organization for Human Rights and Freedom considers that the Saudi authorities neglect to find new solutions for this group of people who are facing very difficult humanitarian, economic, and social circumstances. The authorities also intend to ignore the issuance of regulations which would facilitate obtaining the nationality and the documentation, which are considered one of their simplest rights allowing them to achieve their civil and political rights as guaranteed by the first paragraph (1) of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that everyone has the right to a nationality. It is also stated in Article 24 of the Covenant Civil and Political Rights that every child has the right to acquire a nationality. Article 29 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights also states that everyone has the right to a nationality.

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