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MP HAILS GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT ON DOMESTICS Panel nod to medical malpractice bill

KUWAIT CITY, April 6: The parliamentary Legislature and Legal Committee on Sunday approved the Weapons Collection Bill and referred it to the Interior and Defense Committee for further study. Speaking to reporters after the committee meeting, Chairman MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari revealed they discussed a number of bills; including the proposals to control weapons and firecrackers, as well as criminalizing the possession of sharp tools.

He added the committee also tackled the Financial Markets Authority Bill but postponed taking a final decision due to the constitutional loopholes found in the draft. He said they also looked into proposals on the preparation of leaders and appointments to leadership positions, affirming an agreement has been reached to forward these bills to the concerned committee. He then confirmed approval of the proposal on medical responsibility, which aims to protect the medical profession and identify the rights and duties of medical practitioners and patients who might be victims of medical errors. The proposal has become necessary because of the report incidence of medical errors committed in the hospitals.

Meanwhile, MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji has forwarded questions to Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid Al-Sabah on the number of Bedouns in Kuwait, those with security restrictions, those eligible for naturalization and those who hold other nationalities. He wants to know the exact number of Bedoun military personnel who participated in the Arab wars in 1967 and 1973, and liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi invaders. He also asked about the number of Bedoun martyrs recognized by the Martyrs Office and reasons for not granting them citizenship; number of Bedouns with security restrictions and types of restrictions; number of Bedouns who are not entitled to citizenship and ways to deal with them in the future; and number of Bedouns who hold official documents showing they belong to other countries, their names and reasons for not taking legal procedures against them.

He then inquired on the legal steps taken against expatriates with expired residency permits or visit visas. He asked why the same steps were not taken against those who claimed to be Bedouns. The lawmaker also queried about the legal status of the children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis, including divorcees and widows; in addition to decisions taken to treat them as Kuwaitis until they reach the legal adult age and whose status has not been corrected, which opens the door for them to join the category of Bedouns. He asked the minister to provide a detailed report on the number and names of these children; the number and names of citizens whose nationality was revoked in the past five years with reasons for cancellation; legal status of those whose citizenships were revoked but still residing in Kuwait; mechanism used to deal with them in order to avoid putting them into the category of Bedouns; as well as the number and names of naturalized Kuwaitis whose citizenship was revoked according to Article 13 of the Citizenship Law. He went on to ask: Are there military employees of the Interior and Defense ministries who remain in service despite the security restrictions? If yes, what are the justifications? Still on the Bedoun issue, MP Abdullah Al-Tamimi has forwarded queries to Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid on the steps taken by the Central System for Remedying the Status of Illegal residents (CSRSIR) after three-and-a-half years of operation. He requested for details, such as the expenditures of the agency since its inception including the salaries of its leaders, directors of departments and heads of sections. He wants to know the Bedoun categories specified by the agency; number of those under the green, yellow and red categories; number of those whose naturalization process has been completed and referred to the Supreme Committee of Citizenship since 2010 till date; reasons for not granting them citizenship; and number of Bedouns who hold passports issued by Arab, African and European countries.

Errors
“Kuwait has been suffering due to the errors and malpractices of recruitment offices and domestic workers, not to mention the human trafficking accusation hurled by the international community and murders committed by unstable household workers,” says MP Kamel Al- Awadhi. In light of the above scenario, Al- Awadhi considers the announcement made by HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak on the establishment of a Kuwaiti domestic worker recruitment company a “heartwarming gesture”. According to the lawmaker, the premier has assured him that the government is keen on establishing the company, which will efficiently supervise the recruitment of domestic workers. He pointed out this is a clear sign that the prime minister is giving importance to the issue due to the alarming rate of crimes committed by domestic workers. Al-Awadhi said that during a Cabinet meeting with a number of concerned officials in 2012, a decree was issued on the establishment of the company, but for unknown reasons; the project has not been implemented until now. He added he presented an idea during his tenure as Director General of the Immigration Department at the Ministry of Interior and a number of officials approved it; yet his suggestion has never been executed. He lamented this initiative would have been the ideal way to address disorder and mismanagement in the existing recruitment offices, which practically paved the way for crimes committed by domestic workers. The MP clarified the existing offices will maintain their business under the supervision and higher management of the governmental company, asserting that destroying local business is absolutely unacceptable. He said the company will cooperate with the Kuwaiti embassies in countries from which domestic workers are recruited from. He disclosed the embassies will verify the qualifications of workers, while the company will supervise medical and mental examinations before the applicants undergo extensive training on the Kuwaiti culture and domestic work. Further explaining the company’s functions, the MP revealed the company will play a crucial role in safeguarding the rights of workers; amongst other systems that will protect the domestic workers’ rights. He stressed the company will ensure the workers receive their salaries on time. He also met a number of bank managers to discuss the possibility of deducting salaries from the sponsors’ bank accounts to be deposited directly to the accounts of the workers. He believes this will help improve the impression of the international community on the country in terms of domestic workers and human rights.

Demand
Al-Awadhi went on to say the issue is no longer a governmental demand as it has become a public demand, which is reflected in the results of the recent public opinion poll on the establishment of the company conducted by Al-Seyassah daily. Results of the poll showed that out of 2,245 participants, 85 percent support the establishment of the company as they are suffering from the high cost of recruitment, as well as their concern regarding the crimes committed by domestic workers. On the other hand, 12 percent of the participants rejected the idea because the company will put existing local recruitment agencies out of business, while three percent abstained. In conclusion, the lawmaker hopes this company will resolve issues concerning domestic workers, unlike the previous impractical proposals which only dug a deeper hole. In another development, MP Yakoub Al-Sanei revealed he suspended the submission of an interpellation request against Minister of Oil Ali Al-Omair on the Dow Chemical issue after the prime minister assured him that those involved in the deal will be referred to the Public Prosecution. Al-Sanei said he met the prime minister and informed him about the Audit Bureau’s report on the Dow deal and to this effect the premier instructed the Fatwa and Legislative Department to refer those implicated of wrongdoing in the Dow deal to the prosecution. Meanwhile, after attending the Public Fund Protection Committee meeting, Al- Omair responded to questions from reporters. He disclosed he is waiting for the response of the Fatwa Department to verify if there are persons who will be held criminally liable in relation to the signing and cancellation of the Dow deal in order to refer those proven guilty to the prosecution. He explained he respects Al-Sanei’s standpoint but he must take into account the constitutional procedures; especially since what has been presented is a proposal and usually proposals are referred by the National Assembly speaker to the relevant committee and then the concerned minister is invited to discuss or the committee takes steps it deems appropriate. On the Kuwait Shell Company issue, Al-Omair asserted he does not cover up flaws or questionable transactions related to Shell or any other contract. “During the meeting, the Oil Ministry’s team presented all information to the committee and the Audit Bureau, hoping for the positive outcome of the investigation to satisfy both the MPs and the people of Kuwait; especially since the amount involved - KD800 million - is huge. We assure everyone that the only money used from this amount is the cost of consultative work done by Shell,” he added; indicating the deal was signed by Shell International, not Kuwait Shell Company. On another issue, MP Abdulkarim Al- Kandari asked the mister of finance to provide him with names and locations of all BOT projects signed in the past years. He asked the minister to mention target completion dates of these projects, annual revenues the State earned from them, and the parties which signed these projects with the State.


By: Abubakar A. Ibrahim and Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff

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