KUWAIT CITY, May 24: “In Kuwait, there is a particular interest in the rights of migrant workers which reflects the general trend to preserve human dignity, without exception, and to respect all the international conventions and agreements signed by Kuwait.
The most prominent of these concerns is the Shelter Center for Migrant Labor of the Ministry of Social Affairs,” said by the lawyer Mohammed Thaar Al Otaibi — Director of Training and development Center of Kuwait Society for human rights. While praising what the Center does in supporting the rights of workers, Al Otaibi said, “It’s more than just a center. Its capacity is of five hundred female inmates. It was built according to international standards to care of female workers who suffer from problems with their employers, to become one of the most important centers in the region.”
In the middle of the current May, Kuwait Society for Human Rights has conducted a workshop entitled (The crime of human trafficking and its impact on societal security) during which several recommendations were raised including a visit to the Shelter Center for Migrant Labor. As a result the Society organized a joint visit to the Center in collaboration with the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women GAATW, National Movement for Domestic Labor — India, National Fund for workers’ welfare — India, the Arabic network for immigrant rights (ANMR) and Solidarity Center.
Receiving the delegation
Mr Falah Mazid Al Mutairi — Chairman of the Shelter Center for Migrant Labor — greeted the visiting delegation which is of lawyer Mohammed Thaar Al Otaibi — Director of Development and Training Centre, lawyer Athra’a Al Rifai — Head of the Complaints Committee in the Society, Sahl Al Gunaid – The projects and programs manager in the Society, D. Zainab Al Maraj — Chairperson of the family committee at the National Association of Domestic Security “Rawasy”, Abdul Rahman Noman Al Turki – Coordinator of labor solidarity Center in Kuwait, Ms Amy Testa – Programs officer of access to justice in the Global Alliance against trafficking in Women, as well as representatives from the National Movement for Domestic Labor and the National Fund for workers’ welfare.
Together with the work team of the Centre, Al Mutairi provided a detailed explanation for the delegation after meeting them with a standing ovation. He told them about the Center sections and gave them the opportunity to hold collective and individual meetings with the inmates, in addition to informing them about the Center’s professional work and its role in protecting workers’ rights.
Al Mutairi spoke with full transparency about the Center and how it is trying to protect human rights according to the statement of lawyer Mohammed Thaar Al Otaibi — Director of Development and Training Centre in Kuwait Society for Human Rights. Some female workers are exposed to actions that violate their rights as workers and as a human being. It was necessary for the State of Kuwait to take positions against violators through the Shelter Center and provided female workers with a shelter until their problems are resolved.
The Shelter Center for Migrant Labor
Administratively, the Shelter follows the Public Authority for Labor Force of the Ministry of Social Affairs. It contains offices of the concerned government agencies such as ministries of interior, foreign affairs, and justice in addition to a clinic for the Ministry of Health that works around the clock. The reader may wonder, “How are the inmates received in the Shelter Center?” The way is not complicated. The female inmate just advances personally with a shelter request or she is forwarded by her embassy or one of the organizations or the Ministry of Interior. She should be over twenty years old, and then she has medical, security and legal examinations. “Then?” Nothing … if she is not suffering from any infectious disease or a criminal problem, she becomes an inmate.
Then her employer is called, and if he is holding her passport, the administration intervene to deliver the passport. If the inmate asked to travel, he is compelled to bring her a ticket. And in the case of suspected human trafficking, the case is referred to the management of public decency protection and human trafficking for investigation and then is referred to the prosecution, as it happened in similar cases. “What does happen to the inmate inside the Center?” She gets permanent supervision and follow-up by qualified specialists.
There are a social supervisor, a psychological supervisor and a legal scholar doing the permanent follow-up since the entry of inmate of the shelter until she leaves. “What do the intimates get?” According to lawyer Athra’a Al Rifai — Head of the Complaints Committee in Kuwait Society for Human Rights, the inmates have access to full comfort and comprehensive services: Air Conditioned and clean rooms, good food, tea break, a large resting room contains a TV, adequate lighting, a theater to implement events; especially in the national holidays and celebrations of New year in collaboration with the communities, personal and health requirements, and in pathological cases, surgeries are carried out, besides psychological and social rehabilitation. “What else?” Even more.
According to Al Rifai, there is a special center to train the female workers on handicrafts where raw materials are available. At the Center, the inmates have the right go in and out at any time and in order to prevent any unexpected problems, the Center corridors are equipped with cameras for the inmates’ safety.
“What if the female worker has children?” Quoting remarks of lawyer Al Rifai, who was one of the members of the visiting delegation that there is no worries about that. Even with lack of private nurseries for women who have children, the Center’s administration has made separate rooms for them. “Are there any other important remarks caught the attention of the visiting delegation?” Yes.
The inmates are not forced to wear hijab and they practice their religious rituals freely. There is a section allocated for prayers and another section in the Center for other groups to practice their religious rituals, according to Al Rifai. In addition to all of the above, the Center checks if the domestic worker was exposed to beat. In the case of confirmation, the case is referred to the Human trafficking department in the Ministry of internal.
There is also a general direction to have Human Rights Office in the Center, according to Al Rifai’s press statement, “ I observed also a list of instructions of the inmates’ rights in Arabic and English and the Society in collaboration with the Center will translate it into several languages fit different nationalities of the inmates.”
According to Al Rifai, the Center has six private cars with a large bus for mass transit. In addition, there are communities representatives on a voluntary basis as a contribution in providing translation services. And she stresses, “During our visit, the number of inmates was up to 355 but the staff treatment with them at the Center was “high refinement “.
Sense of responsibility:
Abdul Rahman Noman Al Turki — Coordinator of Labor Solidarity Center and a member of the visiting delegation praised what the Center does to support the rights of workers, touch their pain and advance their cases, which proves the existence of a sense of responsibility among those in charge of the Center.
He praised the role of the Center, the welfare and different services offered for the inmates. And that makes it one of the important centers that provides better humanitarian standards since it includes all residency requirements and that assures the inmate till the amendment of her situation without insulting her and without costs.
On the other hand, Ms Amy — Officer of access to justice programs said that the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women – which is an Alliance includes more than 100 non-governmental organizations from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and North America working on the subject of human trafficking, migration and Women’s rights — encourages the efforts of the Kuwaiti government in the provision of a shelter and social assistance to migrant workers who have been abused. She added,
“We are aware of the difficulties and challenges faced by affected migrants workers and the importance of recognizing the different needs of the victims, including access to various services. We are grateful for giving us the opportunity to interact with the Shelter management and staff to learn more about migrant workers’ experiences. And it is a reminder of the important role that the government plays in the recognition of the rights of all the migrant workers in Kuwait and protect them. We hope to see a greater cooperation between the various ministries involved in the operation and support of the Shelter, as well as with civil society organizations, including the countries of origin. “
The visiting delegation found it necessary to strengthen cooperation and coordination in a direction that contributes to the upgrading of workers’ rights in Kuwait. It was necessary for them to submit suggestions for the Center to assure mutual cooperation. And since there is no cultural library and a web site for the Center, the Kuwait Society for Human Rights will work in collaboration with other associations to provide the library and the website and other things that will contribute to the upgrading of this noble humanitarian work.
The delegation found that the number of the Centre’s staff is 17 male and female employees. The Center needs more employees, and the delegation wishes that the Ministry of Social Affairs will provide a greater number of employees and specially female researchers, calling on to open the door for anyone who wants to volunteer to help. At the end of the visit, Kuwait Society for Human Rights offered a sincere appreciation for the Center which cares about human rights.
It is considered one of the most prominent centers that cares about the rights of workers exposed to violation. The Society praised the staff working at the Centre, headed by Falah Mazid Al Mutairi, who runs the team with the spirit of a leader who possess humanity first and cooperation second in terms of the opportunity for the delegation to visit and see the Center and its various services and departments.