Riyadh general court
Judge at Riyadh general court found women guilty of black magic (Reuters)

Two Indian housemaids in Saudi Arabia have been jailed for 10 years and sentenced to 2,000 lashes each for practising black magic.

The general court in Riyadh passed the sentence after a Saudi national filed a complaint, the Saudi Gazette reported. He said his two maids had used black magic to inflict harm on him and members of his family.

The women were found with talismans when they were arrested, said police.

Their case came within days of the signing of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, in which the kingdom promised better protection for foreign household service workers.

Philippines labour and employment secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz met Saudi Arabia's labour minister Adel bin Mohammed Fakeih in Jeddah to agree on the terms.

These included employers having to treat their staff humanely, not being able to withhold their passports, not being able to make unauthorised deductions from their employees salary and giving their staff paid holiday and rest periods during the day.

Many people from impoverished countries move to Saudi Arabia in their desperate search for a job and relatively good wages.

Once they arrive, however, they are granted few rights and many suffer abuse by their employers.

Human rights groups say maids work for months without pay, some are beaten and others are at risk of being falsely accused of crimes.

Nisha Varia, from Human Rights Watch, said Indonesian maids were at particularly high risk of being accused of witchcraft - a crime punishable by death.

Last year, a Sri Lankan maid was placed on death row after being accused of witchcraft.

It is estimated that 45 maids from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines and India are currently awaiting execution in Saudi Arabia.