‘More needs to be done to protect workers rights’
KUWAIT CITY, July 29: US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman lauded on Sunday during his visit to the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) Migrant Workers Shelter in Jleeb Al Shuyoukh, the efforts of the Kuwait government in upholding the rights and promoting the protection of expatriate workers and its commitment to fighting human trafficking in the country by adopting a national strategy with five-year plan and the establishment of an inter-agency committee to oversee all of these efforts to boost its fight against human trafficking. “I’m pleased with my colleagues at the Public Authority for Manpower and those running the shelter. Tomorrow, we’re marking World day against trafficking in persons all around the world that’s why I’m here. There have been global efforts against human trafficking,” stated Silverman.
He cited that there are around 20 million people around the world who have been victims of human trafficking and all other countries are trying to stop this. “We all have the responsibility whether the United States, or Kuwait or other countries to do the maximum efforts to stop trafficking and that means investigating and prosecuting any individuals or companies that might be involved in trafficking,” stressed Silverman.
He added that alongside combating human trafficking would be providing services to people who are victims of this trafficking, helping them get back to their countries and ensuring that the workers get their rights while they are in the country.
Silverman commended Kuwait in its efforts in combating human trafficking and aiding victims by involving other government agencies. “I know Kuwait is working closely with international organizations like the International Organization for Migration. We have seen progress here in Kuwait on prosecutions on the treatment of victims and helping people get back to their country or get their rights,” stated Silverman.
However, Silverman outlined that more efforts need to be done which is not unique to Kuwait but also in many countries. “But working closely together I believe and Kuwait working closely with embassies of the countries sending workers here. We want to see more progress as we want to see more progress around the world. This is a constant process. We’re in constant dialogue with the Kuwaiti government .There has been progress. We’re encouraging the maximum cooperation against human trafficking, maximum work with the international organizations that are dealing with this problem,” he pointed out.
Silverman reiterated that it is very important that anybody who employs a worker or even a domestic worker has to understand the laws and obey the laws.
“If there is a violation of law, people should be prosecuted because that will not only hopefully correct that but you kill a problem and will also send a broader message to everyone that Kuwait has laws and they need to be respected with respect to the employment of workers keeping their passports, having proper hours of labor and proper treatment,” he stated.
Silverman accompanied by Public Authority for Manpower Deputy General Director for Manpower Protection Abdullah Al-Mutoutah, PAM International Relations Department Director Jaber Ali Al-Ali and some US Embassy officials took a tour of the shelter that houses temporarily some 166 distressed domestic workers of various nationalities who have escaped from their employers due to various forms of physical, verbal or sexual abuse while some were victims of human trafficking who sought refuge at the shelter while awaiting repatriation to their home country.
The Domestic Workers Law in Kuwait has yet to be fully implemented, though some steps have been taken to date by the Kuwait government to promote the rights and protection of domestic workers. The law grants around 600,000 domestic helpers in Kuwait, most of them Asian women, a 12-hour working day, a day off once a week, and 30 days annual leave. It also obliges employers to open a bank account for maids and transfer their wages to the account to resolve the problem of delays or non-payment of salaries and other provisions.
Silverman lauded PAM for doing a very good job in maintaining a clean facility, helping women with problems in Kuwait by providing legal shelter and legal options to resolve their problems or get back to their home countries. “I commend with my colleagues from the PAM and I know there are many elements — there’s the Ministry of Interior, there’s the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a whole of government effort It’s everybody working together to get a maximum effect, because everyone of us had agreed, trafficking in persons must stop,” stated Silverman.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff