Saudi officials have arrested over 3.7 million people for their disregard of residency, border security, and work regimen. The arrests have been taking place over the span of almost two years - since mid-November 2017 - after the country's "Nation Free of Violators" campaign commenced.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) released a report last Friday stating that of the 3.7 million arrested, upwards of 2.89 million violated residency laws, around 572,500 were detained due to work system infringement, and 242,500 broke border security regulations. The report added that the number of people apprehended for attempting to illegally cross the border into the country was 62,800; 46 percent of whom were Yemenis, 51 percent Ethiopian, and 3 percent of other nationalities. On the other hand, 2,718 people were caught attempting to flee the kingdom.
The 3.7 million were then prosecuted based on the gravity of their infractions. Out of the total, over 521,200 were penalized. Those sent to their respective diplomatic missions to acquire their travel documents amounted to about 474,200. Approximately 617,500 were given the green light to complete their travel reservations, while 913,200 people were deported.
At the time being, roughly 15,500 malefactors have undergone procedures, among them are 13,300 men and 2,200 women.
"Field campaigns have caught 3,714,418 violators of residency, work and border security systems."
Not only were people detained for violating the aforementioned regimen, but those who helped keep them hidden were prosecuted for aiding and abetting. The citizens caught for transporting and harboring the violators totaled 4,139. Saudi nationals who were arrested for the misdemeanor equaled 1,543 people; so far 1,457 of them have completed the necessary paperwork and were set free. Procedures are still pending for the remaining 86.
The "Nation Free of Violators" Campaign
In March 2017, Saudi Arabia launched its "Nation Without Violators" campaign to give residency and labor law violators the chance to leave the country without having to pay penalties.
Former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister at the time, announced a three-month grace period to help undocumented expatriates regularize their status or leave the country. At the time, the expats were assured by Major General Mansour al-Turki, security spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, that those who complied with the amnesty campaign would be allowed back into the country if and when they acquire the necessary work permits or visas.
Al-Turki addressed the kingdom, saying, "The campaign is aimed at all expatriates who do not hold valid iqamas [residency permits] or identification papers in the kingdom and have the residency or labor regulation or both, or those who have entered the Kingdom on Hajj or Umrah visa or transit and have not taken the initiative to depart after the expiry of their visas."