A Qatari military official and his Emirati wife have been arrested in the US for allegedly abusing two of their housekeepers, forcing them to work without pay and threatening them with jail in Qatar if they complained, according to the US Department of Justice.
Hassan Salem H. M. Al Homoud and his wife Zainab Al Hosani were arrested by special agents of a division of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Saturday.
Yesterday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas announced in a statement that the couple has been charged with “engaging in forced labor by obtaining the labor and services of two persons by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, and threats of physical restraint.”
The case came to light in early April when an officer from the San Antonio Police Department found one of the women on Camp Bullis Road in “apparent distress.”
The women took officers to a nearby apartment where she and the other housekeeper lived. According to the statement, that flat was furnished “with only a pallet on the floor for sleeping.”
The couple made their first appearance in a court in San Antonio, Texas yesterday afternoon. If they are convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
It is likely that such an abuse case would be treated differently in Qatar, where domestic help is not covered by the labor law. Just months ago, officials in Doha and from across the GCC backed away from plans to introduce a common contract for domestic workers in the region.
It had been hoped that this legislation would have addressed the exploitation of women, nannies and cooks in homes in the Gulf.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian government said last month that it would ban its nationals from taking jobs as domestic staff in 21 MENA countries, including Qatar. This was being done to “protect the human values and dignity of the nation,” the manpower minister said.
According to the charges, Al Homoud had moved to San Antonio, along with his wife and two children, to attend military training at Camp Bullis, a US army training camp.
In June 2014, Al Homoud sponsored visas for two women to work for the family as household staff while in the US.
One of the employees is an Indonesian citizen and the other is from Bangladesh.
While in San Antonio, the two women were housed in primitive conditions, unable to freely move or travel and were given only limited amounts of food, the criminal complaint states.
Al Homoud and Al Hosani also apparently refused to allow the women to have cellphones, and withheld their passports and visas.
“Al Hosani also threatened the workers with arrest and incarceration in Qatar if they failed to perform their work obligations,” the State’s Attorney’s Office statement added.
During the initial federal court hearing yesterday, Magistrate Judge John Primomo set the defendants’ bond at $100,000 each, according to local publication the San Antonio Express News.
The women were apparently working under a domestic employee contract that stated they would make about $1,500 a month.
However, the women claimed that despite repeated requests, they were never paid during their time working for the family, and Al Hosani threatened to send them to jail in Qatar if they spoke out or stopped working.
Each day, the women were taken from their apartment – to which they had no key – to the family home, where they worked as housekeepers.
They were only allowed to eat leftovers, but they limited themselves to what they ate and drank as they were not allowed to use the toilets in the family home, the statement said.
In the claim, the Indonesian helper alleged that Al Hosani beat her with a stick on one occasion when she caught her going through the trash looking for food.
When they were not working, the women said they were told to sit inside the home’s garage in a plastic structure similar to a portable shed. A neighbor reportedly said she heard crying coming from the garage, Express News reported.
A preliminary court hearing is due to take place on Friday morning, the newspaper added.
Baffles me somewhat that these people don’t realize they’re going to be breaking the laws of the countries they’re visiting should they choose to use the same labour practices as in their home countries. It’s one thing to think it’s ok to behave like this at home but are they really not aware that this is a felony in the US?
You think someone ignorant enough to behave this way would be someone aware of laws in foreign countries? They probably have been in the USA for sometime now and still struggle with basic greetings in English.
That’s a terrible comment. I don’t know a single Qatari who isn’t able to speak English, and if this couple have travelled to the US with a maid then they’re likely to be from the most well-educated of Qatari society. However, if you examine all aspects of employment law and conditions in Qatar then you might come to the conclusion that the abuse of domestic staff seems to be more cultural than borne of any ignorance.
You clearly don’t know enough Qataris then…and taking your maid with you to the USA reflects nothing other than you taking a maid with you, at every educational level most Qataris someway or another are eligible to do studies abroad, and it is relatively inexpensive to take a maid with you when most of the other costs are already covered by the government.
Sorry, I have been in quite a few Qatari homes to know it is not a cultural thing to deny maids the use of the bathroom, their salaries, etc. It stems from ignorance.
Need to get out more, there are lots and lots of Qataris who have at best extremely rudimentary English. They are usually in front of me at Burger King it seems.
Take your point, and I admit that in my job I meet only the perhaps more educated Qatari who do speak English. However, the Qatari that don’t are very unlikely to be the military officials who are invited to the US for training by the US.
Yeah, I agree 100%, one would very reasonably think that. Sadly, I’ve met Qataris sent on training programmes in English who couldn’t write a coherent paragraph. Tremendous waste of resources and time, not to mention setting them up for failure. Not saying that that happened in this case, just that sometimes candidates are sent on courses just to send a candidate, rather than because they are the best candidate.
Umm many qataris can’t speak english. What does taking a maid with you have to do with being well-educated? HOW IS DOMESTIC ABUSE A CULTURAL THING !!?? Can’t believe i just read that. Such an ignorant comment.
Reminds me of the Japanese diplomat to Canada a number of years ago who was arrested for wife abuse. He did try to argue to the police when he was being arrested that they didn’t understand and that it was a Japanese culture thing.
There are quite a few Qataris who do not know how to speak English or have little knowledge.
And as said by others; almost anyone can travel with a maid it is not that expensive or prestigious to do so. I know other nationalities who do the same.
Than you do not know many qatari’s
I think you’ve all missed the point to some extent. What I was commenting on was that fluency or otherwise in the English language was no excuse -but it’s not the real issue and incidentally as a military official I imagine he has more than a basic grasp of English. The point I’m making is that the labour laws of Qatar were drafted deliberately with the intention of creating a tied labour market where there was no competition on wages or conditions i.e to facilitate the exploitation of migrant workers. That is the law throughout the land and it achieves it’s aims very successfully, with the side-effect being the dehumanisation of those that form the migrant labour pool. It is not ignorance on the part of the odd person – it is the will of the people of Qatar – unless I’ve somehow missed all the masses of street protests demanding change, That’s why I say that it is part of the culture of Qatar and it is no surprise that there are people who interpret it as being able to do as they please with their servants.
The problem is that these cases rarely seem to go anywhere even in the US. How many times have we seen stories like these in the press? And if they have diplomatic immunity like that Indian diplomat arrested for abusing her maid last year, it will definitely not go anywhere.
Yes that poor Indian diplomat that now claims dual citizenship for her children. Spoiled kid.
Can’t even use the toilet in the house ! Where do these barbaric, inhuman and maggots of a people come from ? Have they no compassion ? And the fact that think they can threaten people with jail in Qatar only proves the road to changing some people’s mindset at home is going to be long and challenging. Until such people are punished with jail terms; they will continue to act in this manner. The US must proceed with legal proceedings and jail sentences handed down if they are found guilty. And the Qatari government should dishonorably discharge him from his position in the arm forces.
“Can’t even use the toilet in the house!” Where they inspired by the plot of “The Help?”
Not sure were that is
It is movie based on a book about the life of Afro-Caribbean household help in 1960s US.
I know that.
Oh, I seriously thought that you didn’t. Not Emma Stone’s best I thought.
Just tired of the rants against the US of things that occurred 50-100 yrs ago.
Okay to rant about things that happened in the 00s? 😉
‘It is likely that such an abuse case would be treated differently in Qatar’. Oh DN, how you do crack me up with some of your statements of the obvious! In other news, it is sunny and very hot outside today.
Welcome to dohanews
Forced labour, withholding passports to restrict movement, false representation to immigration authorities (their visas said they would get paid over 1500/month), assault, etc. These are highly serious charges.
But bail was set at only 100K. The judge is a bit clueless. That is nothing for this Qatari and his family.
It will go to court proceedings and the abused women will be paid back pay and damages, and he will get some kind of reduced fine and go home. His family will get more servants ( they do not know a life without servants) and do the same again in their home, where this not unusual and never prosecuted.
Yep, keeping that passport alone is human trafficking. Fun times ahead in court.
What are the sources for this report ? A press release, the court filing, other reports?
The United States Department of Justice website seems to cover all the details.
It’s not just an urban legend, if that’s what you are wondering.
No, not wondering at all. But when reporting facts, a reader asks what is the source of information. This is an important story, but was reported without sourcing. Thanks for the link.
It’s cited in the first sentence of the story: “according to the US Department of Justice”.
Apologies, an oversight, sloppy me. So according to the Department of Justice Press release, which I assume is the source of the story and not another news paper or DOJ spokesperson,
“Upon conviction, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000.”
It will be a speedy trial and they will just pay a fine.
Will Doha News cover this? The hearing in Texas is today.
too bad they’re in the wrong country. whether the maids are saying the truth or not. getting incarcerated in the US is not a very good idea. i hope they get a good lawyer and the jury favors the couple… wishful thinking? FAT CHANCE!
So if they did what accused of you still hope they favor the couple?
its a metaphor and figure of speech. Read as “i doubt if the jury in Texas will favor the couple”
They are neither and makes no sense.
Not really dude…
They were released on bail. They have children at home. The family is probably flying out of the country on their way back to Doha now. They will never see a day in prison, or face a jury trial. They will pay some fines and that is it.
I wonder if the young women are also on their way to their own families? I hope they are now safe.
If they’re flying home they’d better be back by Friday for their hearing. In the US you can’t make up stupid excuses to get out of showing up at court (like being busy relaxing, ahem working, in Belgium).
What will the USA do if they don’t return? They should never let them leave and I hope they didn’t…
If they ever tried to go back they would be arrested at PP control.
That’s my point, if they let them leave they may just never return, like other GCC guys who have been “banished” from the USA.
The last time this happened the guy was arrested after he had boarded.
Interpol. These fine folks would be limited to the GCC for the remainder of their days.
I don’t think they would mind though…
Be okay for a few years, but when it is July and all of your friends are off on vacation and you’re stuck with Kuwait, Abu Dhabi or Dubai as choices again (yes, I know that there are others, but you get my drift) it would get old quickly. Fast forward through 25 years of that…would be a form of prison.
They most likely have had their passports confiscated or a travel ban on them …
You can’t get away with things in other countries like you can at home, and the Judge, if he’s smart pulled their passports, even though the couple posted bail. A flight risk I assure you. They probably will not do a day in jail, but they will most likely pay a nice heafty fine and back wages to the workers, with interest if the courts see’s fit.
Their passports would be held as a condition of their release. AND this applies to citizens as well as foreigners. After all, it’s not like the U.S. is Qatar.
Yet more racist, anti Arab and islamaphobic hate from the Americans. We all know what they are trying to do.
Look only recently has a U.S. Court decided to humiliate a hijab wearing lady in an employment dispute.
No wonder American Muslims are flooding back to the Middle East in their thousands to escape such unjust treatment
I thought that case a bit strange. A young muslim girl wants to work at A&F who are notorious for their ads featuring scantily, if even, clad models plastered throughout the store. Seemed to go against her morals. What was she thinking? Where were her parents? Seemed to me they were trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill and somehow show how intolerant the evil empire is. 15 min of fame and all.
Could someone do this to Hugh Hefner?
I think she and her supporters were looking for a test case for publicity. Happens all the time in the use–a minority applying for a job or housing at a place with rumored racist practices. The goal is not to land the job or the house but to publicly call out the violators and set precedents for future cases.
…i use sarcasm instead of punching you on the face – MIMH 2015. lol
Perhaps the HR Dept at AF were Church goers as well.Or is it just the fact that it happened in America enough to set you off.
Except she won the case so its hardly humiliating her more supporting.
Flip the story. A Filipino in Qatar wearing a big cross around her neck at work and her employers told her to remove it. She goes to court in Qatar to defend her rights…….
I know that’s kind of the point – a young muslim girl wanting to work in a store – wins her case of discrimination – my point was that is not in the same league as the maids being abused and not paid – the person brought this up as a case of anti arab but to me its too very different cases. I am not muslim or Filipino so have no bias either way on that – but I agree a court case here would go differently – only difference a cross can be place inside the clothes close to the heart – were as a hijab is not hidden and couldn’t be.
I wonder how he Treats his household staff in Qatar if he treats them like this in the U.S. soil. How?
You can take the man out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the man
Such Shameless people and though they are in high positions and very well paid they treat their workers and maids as garbage. Simpley disgusting
My money is on 25 to life ..
If there was a god but since there isn’t…
3 years, out in 2 for good behaviour.
The civil law suit which will follow will sure bite them in the behind
I hope these cruel bastards do serious time.
I doubt it. Some deal will be struck between the governments and they’ll get off with a fine
I sadly felt something of this nature will be the end result…the good thing about the USA media is they at least will announce the names of these scumbags, which means a lot to people in this part of the world…
As a Qatari CID man would say, innocent people do not run….
Wtf are you on about now?
Doesn’t work that way, my friend.
Tell that to the Saudis who manage to get out of the U.S. after 9-11
You mean the Saudis that had nothing to do with it?
There was an Emirati military attache about a year up on the same charges who did get off, but we declared PNG and deported; but the victim got to stay in the US if I recall correctly.
Diplomatic status? Was he charged in a Federal court? I don’t know of this case, just curious. It seems that since this guy has been in front of a Federal judge, only a prosecutor can make a deal, which I doubt they will do unless they have something to gain or a pardon from Obama himself.
Just looked it up, not an attache, a student at the war college. Aug of 2011, he got off, was charged with employment fraud, lying to a custom’s officer, etc. Guy named Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al Ali.
There was another one involving an Indian diplomat in NYC and one in Florida involving a Saudi princess
It doesn’t work that way and you know it
Hmmm, islamaphobic…really? Too bad the maid’s names ain’t mentioned otherwise I wouldn’t b surprised if the maids are Moslems. I don’t know why people rush to religious differences every time one of their own is in trouble.
And to imagine that this is daily life for many here (and around the world), with no recourse to justice……how do these people look at themselves in the mirror? They have somehow, by what messed up way is anyone’s guess, convinced themselves of their right to be able to treat people like this……an expectation of guilt-free servility. They must view the help as sub-human, which is kind of ironic……..hopefully this will give at least some pause for thought to other abusive exploiters out there….
Just wondering why they or the guys who make their rules and laws never learn from all the bad publicity they get from the way they abuse and ill treat their workers and maids. Things never really get worse then this even in countries like North Korea or Malaysia
“It is likely that such an abuse case would be treated differently in Qatar, where domestic help is not covered by the labor law” – and perhaps even sadder, neither is it covered in Qatar by any moral or legal code similar to the Declaration of Human Rights.
I hate to say this, but they should be put in jail and the keys should be thrown away.
Maybe Bubba from Kentucky as his cell mate will show him some ‘love’
Think there’s plenty of Bubbas in Texass
Texas prisons are predomantly Hispanics and African Americans..
Seeing that they are being tried in the US, the land of the “free”, where justice exists and people have the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty it would be wrong of me to pass judgment on them now. 🙂
The only thing hard to believe in this story is that the maids were promised $1,500 a month. 1,500 QAR would be surprising, let alone dollars.
Minimum Wage Laws would have to be satisfied to sponsor someone into the country. 1,500QR would raise the suspicion of immigration and would be refused.
With an offer of less — on paper, that is — he would not have been able to get visas for them to enter the US.
When applying for their visa he has to declare what he will pay them. We can assume he had no intention of paying them anywhere near that. As he allegedly paid them nothing, he will be charged with lying/fraud to immigration. That is just one of the federal offences here.
I wonder why Doha news is not covering the story of a Indian driver beating A Qatari kindergarten boy?!!!! Oh yeah I know he is Qatari and must be he deserve it some how!!!!
Because DN is racist, of course. As the ex-PM said yesterday, everyone is racist towards Big Q.
Oh, hang on ……..
Might you email us more information about this? Haven’t heard of this case, but it sounds awful. We’re at [email protected] (not com).
Maybe the driver was sick of being the parent? Were mummy and daddy in London?
Could be, but are you saying that is a good reason to abuse a child?!!! I congrats you on you developed way of thinking and respect to others. Your feeling toward Qatari only show who you are really. And I hope no Qatari child come across your way because you might avoided them only for being Qatari.
I did not make any gudgment on the driver because it is still not clear, I just stated the situation like Doha News Do. I Waite until I get the whole story then I make an opinion about. When people like you always like to gudge a whole community on a behavior of individual. That is very narrow way of thinking. I feel sorry for you that you have to live around a community that you hate so much.
Of course I don’t, there’s never an excuse, i was being facetious, but I’d like to see evidence of the story rather than just take your word for it. That said, I’m sure many domestic staff are pushed to the limit in Qatar because of mistreatment or long hours or low wages or a mix of all three. Where exactly have I judged a whole community? I think you’ve got a bit carried away. And don’t feel sorry for me, you’ve no idea where I live!
The story is well tailored to address the USA audience and to further hurting the image of Arab Moslems from the Gulf region. This is part of many similar allegations against Arabs and Qatar in particular and blackmailing this state to prevent them from arranging 2022 world cup.
Qatar is a close friend to America and that’s why mr. AlHomoud is having a military training in America.
I sympathies with the two poor ladies who were choosen as victims and forced to say these allegations against their employers.
Lover of Qatar
Maybe that is why he felt he could do as he pleased in my country. I’m sure the apartment was a setup and the neighbors were paid to say they heard crying coming from there. Give it a rest, dude.
يبدو انك مطلع مثل المحامي عما مع الجيران.فاساليبكم معروفة للجميع وادعاؤكم بالانسانيه اكاذيب فضحتكم جرائمكم ضد الابرياء ي فيتنام وغرينادا وافغانستان والعراق.انا اكتب بالعربي لاني حر وعليك تعلم لغتي واخلاق ديني الاسلامي لتعرف ردي عليكم
Wow…..I’d like to think you were trolling, but I suspect not……..the saddest part is that obviously have no idea how deluded you are. You seriously think the women were forced to make up allegations by the Americans? If Qatar is the close friend of the USA and that’s why Al Homoud was there, why would the US then set up him up, as you suggest? You really have no clue, do you? A Lover of Qatar you may be, but clearly no lover of reality, truth and logic……..
انتم لا تعرفوا ولا تحترموا الاصدقاء فضجاياكم هم الاصدقاء والذين يظنوا ان عند ساستكم اخلاق.فالغدر هو شيمتكم وما عليك الا النظر كيف تستغلوا سذاجة البشر في مجتمعات العرب والمسلمين لتعرفوا مستوى شراستكم في الاجرام وسرقة ثروات تلك الشعوب.تعلم العربيه لتعرف كيف نفكر تجاهكم.
Deleting because comment is not in English.
As this is not the first time I read about abuse like this, I’m asking myself what kind of upbringing these people (the Qatari and Emirati) got from their parents to become such mean, vicious people.
Can any Qataris reading this please elaborate on what their parents are teaching them about equal value of human lives, how they’re brought up to treat the less fortunate (house maids etc.)? Because, based on the frequency of cases like this involving Egyptians, Emiratis, Saudis, Qataris etc. compared to other places in the world, I’m awfully tempted to allow myself to think that this way of treating house maids is a dark side of parts of the Arabic culture, and I’m hoping someone can convince me otherwise..?
I don’t blame u from concluding that it is a culture problem to such allegations. Please look to the history of Arabs and what Islam did to them. Muslims are under attack by devils and those against justice since more than a century with objective not to allow Islam to rule again. This comes under the war of terrorism where Moslems are the target. Moslems are victims to this war and the media plays the forefront in this war.
Please read about Quran and prophet Muhammad and u will get the answer to ur queries.
they thought they were immune by breaking the law or not respecting the basic human rights….the arrogance at its finest! Here you go: they might taste what it means to be deprived of freedom if they go to jail…insh’allah!
I have no sympathy whatsoever for anyone whom treats any human in that manner. Sadly though, this is going to be all over the news because the disgusting couple are Arab Muslims, even though this type of disgusting behavior is a hidden common factor in many American households. There is a human trafficking epidemic happening in the US right now, especially alongside border states be it Mexico or Canada with too many cases and stories to list.
Where is my comment
Why isn’t household help covered in the labor laws – its not like there isn’t a lot of them – there should be rules and laws to protect people.
and to imagine its part of the normal practice to treat this poor workers as slaves out here. Well they can abuse and brutalize and get away with it within their own borders but once they get to foreign shores they better watch out as they could be sentenced to life in jail for human trafficking and slavery of this poor workers. Its time for this sponsors and employers who treat their workers like trash to sit up and know that they will face the music sooner then later