Saudi Arabia bars Indonesia and Philippines workers

Protestors demonstrate over the recent execution of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia, on June 24, 2011 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia The execution of an Indonesian maid sparked protests earlier this month

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Saudi Arabia has said it will stop issuing permits for workers from Indonesia and the Philippines.

Riyadh said it was responding to new guidelines issued by the two Asian countries, which have long demanded better protection for their citizens.

Earlier this month Jakarta announced a moratorium on its nationals working in Saudi Arabia after an Indonesian maid was executed for murder.

More than two million Filipinos and Indonesians work in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi labour ministry said in a statement that the new rules would come into effect on Saturday.

The statement added: "The ministry's decision coincides with its great efforts to open new channels to bring domestic workers from other sources."

The Indonesian labour ministry played down the effect of the ban, saying Jakarta's moratorium on sending maids is due to come into effect on 1 August.

In the meantime, the ministry said about 10,000 Indonesians had visas and would be going to Saudi Arabia.

The execution of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia by beheading earlier this month sparked emotional protests, and criticism of the government for failing to prevent it.

Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the execution of Ruyati Binti Sapubi went against the "norms and manners" of international relations.

The BBC's Kate McGeown in Manila says the Philippines has argued for months that the Saudis need to increase the minimum wage for maids, and give a guarantee of humane working conditions.

Rights groups say maids are often mistreated in Gulf states, and there are few labour laws to protect them.

But the Gulf governments deny the claims, and highlight the fact that they recently signed up to the International Labour Organisation's convention on domestic workers.

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