Foreign workers not responsible for rise in crime in Saudi Arabia


“We should not look for a hanger to hang our problems on. Foreign workers here are just like they are in any other country,” Al Shayegi, who has a degree in criminology from a US university, told a woman questioner during a session on the subject ‘family is the first defence in juvenile crime.’

Al Shayegi said that differences in customs and traditions were always existent in the Kingdom before its unification. He added that the crime rate among Saudis was more than that among non-Saudis, and that Saudi criminals included those who are below 20 and over 40, and also women.

“Foreign criminals in the Kingdom, on the other hand, are usually between the ages of 20 and 40. And there are very few women,” he said.

According to him, non-Saudis committed more homicide crimes than Saudis and that both Saudis and non-Saudis were equally indulging in crimes of embezzlement.

“However, in terms of drug usage, Saudis surpass foreigners by leaps and bounds,” he said.

He added that instead of finding immediate solutions to the problem, government bodies were busy blaming one another about who is responsible for the rise in juvenile crime.

Deputy Minister of Social Affairs Ayed Al Radadi said that an average of 2,500 youths were annually sent to juvenile detention centres in Riyadh alone “a sign of an increase in youth crime in the Kingdom. If one were to survey all of the Kingdom’s cities that number would estimatedly be more than 10,000 each year.”

Al Radadi added that taking into consideration the fact that 50 per cent of the Kingdom’s population was under the age of 15, these statistics were sounding alarm bells.

Al Shayegi called on the Kingdom’s judges to punish juvenile criminals by assigning them community work rather than imprisonment, and said that the latter would help rehabilitate them into society.

He added that many juveniles were being imprisoned for minor crimes but becoming hardened criminals in prison.

“There are inmates who recruit others. When they leave jail they form their own gangs,” he said.

The session was part of a symposium organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs in Riyadh last week to mark the World Day for Social Development during which a study conducted for the

Royal Court

by King Saud University, was presented.

The study found that boys as young as 10 years and girls as young as 13 are taking drugs in the Kingdom’s public schools.

Al Shayegi said that the study covered many public schools in the Kingdom’s 13 regions, and many public schools refused to take part in the study even though the late King Fahd had commissioned it five years ago.

“School principals told us we should not open the eyes of youngsters to the dangerous trends in society,” Al Shayegi told the symposium participants, who included sociologists, social workers and media persons.

“I tell those who refused to take part to wake up,” he added.

He said that the percentage of drug usage in the Kingdom was still lower compared to other countries and that the efforts of the families to supervise their children as well as those of concerned government authorities were essential to combat the menace.


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