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Tuesday , September 22 2020

Migrant workers ‘do not’ enjoy adequate legal protection in Kuwait

‘Still vulnerable to ill-treatment’

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 19: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has acknowledged the fact that the Kuwaiti government reforms continue to be carried out in respect of the file of the expatriates during 2018, but at the same time confirmed that the migrant workers do not enjoy adequate legal protection and are still vulnerable to ill-treatment, forced labor and deportation even if they commit minor infractions, reports Al-Rai daily.

In its annual report which was released a few days back which reviewed the human rights situation in various countries around the world, the New York-based institution said “unlike many other countries Kuwait still allows personnel from the (Human Rights Watch) to enter the country and engage constructively with the organization on many human rights issues.” The report pointed out that “twothirds of the Kuwait population is migrant workers, who are still subject to ill-treatment despite reforms.”

The report says, “Measures to protect domestic workers and other menial workers are still weak compared to those who are covered by the Kuwaiti Labor Law. The domestic labor law is also limited to the fact that it does not put in place mechanisms such as the inspection of working conditions in the home, and does not specify any penalties against employers who confiscate passports or do not provide decent housing, food, medical care, rest breaks or appropriate weekly holidays. “Domestic workers remain subject to ill-treatment, exploitation and arrest often because of the sponsorship system that links their visas to employers,” sources said.

On the issue of women’s rights, the report went on to say that “the Kuwaiti Personal Status Law, which applies to Muslims who make up the majority of Kuwaitis, discriminates against women.

For example, some women need a male guardian to complete their marriage contracts. “A woman may seek divorce from the court on a specific basis, unlike a man who can divorce his wife unilaterally.

A woman may lose custody of her children if she remarries a person from outside her ex-husband’s family. “A man can marry to up to 4 wives, without the wife’s permission or knowledge. A man can prevent his wife from working if he finds that it negatively affects the interests of the family.” “Kuwait does not have any laws against domestic violence and marital rape,” the report said. “Fornication (or adultery) and sexual relations outside marriage are punishable by law, and homosexuality among men is punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years.

The transvestites (third sex) can be arrested under a provision introduced into the Penal Code in 2007 that penalizes anyone who resembles the other sex in any way.”

On the death penalty, the report said, “Kuwait continues to apply the death penalty for non-violent crimes, such as those related to drugs and in 2017 carried out 7 executions by hanging, the first executions since 2013.

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