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Legalists hit imposition of KD 500 on over 60s – Treaties violated

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KUWAIT CITY, Nov 7: Two legalists have criticized the decision taken by the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) to impose a fee of KD 500 as well as private health insurance on expatriates of ages 60 years and above who do not have a university qualification, stressing that the decision has clear suspicion of unconstitutionality and violation of international treaties and covenants signed by the state in the field of human rights, reports Al-Anba daily.

Speaking about the decision from a constitutional point of view, Professor of Public Law at the College of Law in Kuwait University Dr. Fawaz Al-Jadaei said, “If the decision is true, it contains a clear constitutional violation, as it includes unjustified discrimination between residents who hold a university degree and those who do not. “This decision differentiates between those who hold a university degree and those who do not, which is in violation of Article 7 of the Constitution, which states that ‘Justice, freedom and equality are the pillars of society’, and Article 29, which states that ‘People are equal in human dignity, and they are equal before the law in public rights and duties, without discrimination between them in this regard on the grounds of gender, origin, language or religion’.

“The decision was aimed to provide relief for the burdens on the health sector on the grounds that adults who are aged 60 years and above usually suffer from diseases and put pressure on the health service. However, the decision differentiates based on those who hold a university degree and those who do not, as if those who hold a university degree are immune from diseases, at a time when the decision is about granting residency in the country, and not employment or promotion, so that academic qualifications are taken as a criterion.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Khaled Al- Yaqout, Professor of International Law and Human Rights, said, “If the decision was issued in this way, it explicitly violates Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “all people are equal before the law, and they are equal in enjoying the protection of the law without discrimination. “This age group also has the right to enjoy equal protection from any discrimination that violates this declaration and from any incitement to such discrimination. Kuwait has acceded to and ratified this declaration because of age. This is a crime in the Western culture, as there are international movements and organizations that criminalize discrimination based on age and call for honoring the elderly. “Therefore, this decision requires reconsideration, especially since a large number of those it targets do not have the ability to pay huge fees, their children and grandchildren are here in Kuwait, and some of them cannot travel to their country because of the conditions there.”

Dr. Al-Yaout also explained that imposing additional fees on this category and not others is an unthoughtful decision. Such a decision cannot be issued under the pretext of mitigating the health sector or reducing the number of residents, as there are other more effective and law-respecting ways and methods through which the problem of burdening the health care can be solved. For instance, cutting down the number of residents, among whom there is a significant number of marginal and bulk workers. If it is a matter of reducing them, they are the first to be considered before those who spent long years in the country and spent their lives in its service.

Chairman of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Muhammad Al-Sager affirmed that Kuwait which has invested in the expertise of the residents who are between 60 and 70, has the right to continue to benefit from this segment of employees, as international studies have proven the expertise of this group of workers cannot be dispensed with easily. Al-Sager said in a press statement, Sunday, that Kuwait views the issue of reforming the employment structure and demographics as a threedimensional national issue, the first of which is the most important approach to reforming the state public budget and strengthen the basic conditions in the area of national identity to make Kuwait a productive country. These dimensions are represented in reforming the structure of employment and demographics, not through “fragmented and unthoughtful decisions’ but through an integrated long-term plan based on Kuwait’s needs and its development model.

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