COVID-19 crisis helps uncover over 2,500 dummy companies
KUWAIT CITY, Aug 7: In line with the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining”, the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), the Ministry of Interior and other government agencies to uncover a number of dummy companies and close their files. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 2,500 companies have been closed, reports Al-Qabas daily. The partial lockdown, followed by the total lockdown, and then the regional isolation that Kuwait witnessed during the pandemic, revealed the extent of the suffering caused by the visa traders, the exploitation of absconding workers, and the violation of the residency law to work in daily jobs. This necessitated the alertness of government agencies and the launch of the process of closing the files of the violating companies, arresting those involved and transferring them to the Public Prosecution, and remedying the situation.
According to informed sources from PAM, the inspection teams of the authority, in coordination with the General Department for Residency Investigations, are currently focusing on arresting absconders. They are being followed up, arrested and referred to the competent authorities. All absconding reports have been studied and verified. During the coming period, the activity of the tripartite committee will be expanded to inspect establishments that employ workers who are not registered under their sponsorship. Regarding the visa trade file, the sources explained that the labor protection sector is receiving complaints from workers regarding the buying of residence permits. The cases are investigated and then transferred to the competent authorities.
Also, investigations are being held with some workers who were caught during the inspections and discovered that they bought their residence permits, most of which were from dummy companies. The sources said, “About 175 people who are accused of employing workers and selling residence permits were arrested during the first half of this year, including facility owners and mandoubs (representatives). They were transferred to the competent authorities. Last year, PAM, after referring the cases to the Public Prosecution and the Ministry of Interior, blacklisted more than 2,200 companies and institutions that were involved in selling residence permits.” Meanwhile, the General Department for Residency Investigations, in coordination with the Employment Protection Sector of PAM and the Ministry of Interior, recently seized a group of dummy domestic labor offices that were carrying out their work in secret to supply domestic workers, most of whom were residency law violators and absconders from their sponsors, in exchange for daily commission.
The total number of dummy offices that have been closed since the beginning of this year until mid-July is more than 51. These offices were working through social networking sites to supply domestic workers in violation of the labor law and the residency system. A total of 129 absconders and residency law violators were arrested in six months. The outcome of this effort during a period of six months resulted in the cancellation of 116 work permits for absconders, arrests of 129 absconding domestic workers, closure of 51 dummy domestic labor offices, and the arrest of 175 accused of employing illegal workers and selling residence permits. In addition, the Migrant Employment Committee of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights revealed that it had observed 997 violations related to laborers working in open areas during the banned time period in the months of June and July. In a press statement, the committee revealed its observations of labor operational violations during the afternoon hours as follows – 134 construction workers, 131 security guards for buildings under construction, 10 road workers, 49 cleaners, and 633 delivery workers. It is noteworthy that the period for implementing the decision to prevent work in open areas in the afternoon hours will end on August 31.
Head of the Migrant Employment Committee and Head of the Complaints Committee in the Kuwait Society for Human Rights Mashari Al-Sanad said, “The Kuwaiti government’s position on the crime of human trafficking, the need to combat it, and the exploitation of workers is an advanced one and in the right direction. Kuwait is committed to preserving human rights and dignity such that it has become a custom and a tradition within the society. It is also committed to the international conventions, treaties and conventions in this regard.” Al-Sanad praised Kuwait’s efforts, even though there were some shortcomings in combating human trafficking. He highlighted that the Department for the Protection of Public Morals and Combating Human Trafficking was established in the Ministry of Interior in 2015 and is affiliated with the General Department of Criminal Investigation. Al-Sanad said, “The government has also obligated the domestic labor recruitment offices to conclude a contract for all parties that includes many privileges, in addition to establishing centers for housing workers. The Human Rights Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is concerned with preserving human dignity, following up on human rights conditions, providing opinion and advice, preparing reports, and monitoring with the cooperation of government agencies, civil society