Saudi diplomatic compound in VA investigated for suspected human trafficking

Saudi home 2Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are investigating a possible case of “human trafficking” at a McLean, Va. home owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Agents were called on to rescue two women from the residence, which serves as the Saudi diplomatic compound. Both women, possible victims of domestic servitude, were Philippine nationals according to NBC-4 Washington.

“Homeland Security Investigations DC encountered two potential victims of trafficking and the investigation is ongoing,” a spokesman for ICE/Homeland Security investigations told News4.

It’s unclear who informed authorities at this point.

“One woman reportedly tried to flee by squeezing through a gap in the front gate as it was closing,” the report said.

Diplomatic immunity hampers the investigation currently being carried out by the DC branch of Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE, according to CNN.

The CNN report continued:

The women are charging, according to a different State Department official, that the Saudi attaché kept their passports, made them work extremely long hours and did not pay them. The source said they had not seen anything to indicate the women were physically harmed.

The official also pointed out these allegations are similar to several other cases they heard from domestic workers who work for diplomats from the Persian Gulf.

Persian Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, have long been criticized by human rights organizations for their treatment of women. Salon reports that “According to the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia ranks 131st out of 135 countries on gender parity and opportunities for women.”

Read more at NBC4-News and CNN.

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