TEHRAN, Nov. 17 (MNA) – A Saudi diplomat and his wife forced two trafficked women to work in slave-like conditions at their London home.
They kept the women as virtual prisoners confiscated their passports and prevented them from contacting their families, forbade them from leaving the property on their own and racially harassed them, legal papers claim. But Jarallah Al-Malki and his wife have won an appeal to allow them to claim diplomatic immunity, meaning they may not have to answer the claims made in an employment tribunal document seen by the Evening Standard.
The allegations of mistreatment have not been examined in court as the hearings have so far only been to decide whether the couple can claim immunity. Papers state that Filipino Cherrylyn Reyes and Indonesian Titin Rohaetin Suryadi were employed as domestic workers. Ms Reyes claims she was made to work more than 17 hours per day, seven days a week, with no payment. She alleges her passport was taken, that she was not allowed to contact her family and was not allowed out of the house except with Al-Malki or his family.
She fled after contacting police, the documents state. Ms Suryadi, who was employed two months later, claims she was made to work similar hours and was given only two sums of £195 and £238 in a payment direct to her family. She claims she could not leave the house except to take rubbish to the garden. Ms Suryadi managed to escape when Al-Malki was away and his wife was asleep in bed.
An employment tribunal was told the pair each had letters from the UK Border Agency which stated: “The competent authority has concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that you have been trafficked.” But it was ruled that to establish whether the two had been trafficked was beyond the scope of the tribunal.
The women are bringing claims for unfair dismissal, racial discrimination and harassment, failure to pay the minimum wage and breach of working time regulations. A judge had said if the claims were proved, their treatment would mean that granting diplomatic immunity would amount to a breach under Human Rights law, the right to a fair trial. But the decision was overturned on appeal last month and the diplomat can claim immunity.
The judge allowed lawyers for the women to ask the Court of Appeal to decide whether diplomatic immunity unfairly interferes with human rights, that could ultimately see all domestic workers equally protected and mean the two’s case would be heard. Charities have warned hundreds of domestic workers employed by diplomats are potentially trafficked, with 500 visas granted to such staff annually.
The Iran Project is not responsible for the content of quoted articles.