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‘Impact of migrant workers on Kuwaiti society’
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 2: The Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) for issued a report for the past three consecutive years, including 2018, about expatriate workers in Kuwait who feel they are caught in the web of irregularities, reports Al-Qabas daily.
The report looks at the real face of labor in Kuwait by monitoring the administrative and legal aspects and the positive and negative changes and to what extent they affect the lives of migrant workers ‘non-Kuwaitis’ and the impact of all this on the Kuwaiti society, the country, economic vision and foreign policy.
Kuwait, in 2013 had enacted the Law No. 91 to combat Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants, which calls for 15 years imprisonment and in some cases even life imprisonment. However, weakness in the enforcement of the law has made its application insufficient because not all human trafficking cases can be accessed to particularly the ‘suspect cases’ as they are referred to, limited coordination among the concerned authorities and lack of unified executive procedures, although the current situation is full of suspicions of trafficking in humans shrouding many migrant labor sectors. In its report, the society expressed concern at the weakness of law enforcement officials in monitoring violations committed domestic workers.
The society said it has received a number of complaints from ‘abused’ domestic workers via its Hotline. The complaints are no less in nature than trafficking in humans. To add insult to injury the society speaks about cheating by a majority of maids recruiting offices concerning the nature of work and wages. “In August, we received a report that a domestic worker had fl ed from the accommodation of the maids recruiting office in Hawalli and had fled to the Indian Embassy to seek the embassy help, where six other women claimed being raped. We contacted the concerned authorities to investigate the incident,” the society said.
The report pointed out the Society has received a number of complaints from workers who were brought to Kuwait by fictitious companies or rather the ‘visa traders’. The workers had apparently paid more than 1,500 dinars for an opportunity to work in Kuwait. When they arrived in Kuwait they were stranded because they failed to find their sponsor to complete the residence permit formalities.
It is said the sponsors make a lot of money by ‘selling’ visas and yet they are not committed to employing those under their sponsorship. This puts the workers under huge financial stress and as a result they are forced to violate the labor law.
The labor law states that a sponsor is punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and a fine of not less than KD 2,000 and not exceeding KD 10,000 for recruiting workers and not employing them.
The report refers to the administrative deportation without making a reference to the worker, or verifying whether the decision taken was a result of a violation committed by the worker or not. In many cases employers refuse to pay the salaries of migrant workers and if the workers demand their salaries the employers cancel the work permits or report them as absconders following which arrest warrants are issued and workers are deported administratively.
The report pointed out the labor department of the Public Authority for Manpower has until now been not responsive to the demand of the Kuwait Human Rights Society to provide translators in several languages – English, French, Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu, etc, free of charge for non-Arabic speaking workers so that legal protection can be provided to the migrant workers in Kuwait, despite the ongoing attempts to activate this service.