Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Kuwait

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 14 June 2004
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Kuwait, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Kuwait (Tier 2)

Kuwait is a destination country for women, men, and children trafficked primarily from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Trafficking victims in Kuwait are primarily foreign women who come to Kuwait as domestic servants but are subsequently abused by their employers or coerced into situations of debt bondage or involuntary servitude. Some domestic servants are trafficked internally for sexual and labor exploitation. Some underage boys from South Asia, Sudan, Yemen, and Eritrea are trafficked from neighboring Gulf States to work as camel jockeys. Victims suffer debt bondage, involuntary sexual servitude, coerced labor, verbal and physical abuse, and the withholding of their passports or other required travel documents.

The Government of Kuwait does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government needs to develop and implement tools such as an anti-trafficking national action plan, comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, and prevention and protection measures to effectively combat trafficking. As an interim measure, Kuwait should strengthen its penal laws and improve their enforcement.


During the reporting period, Kuwait took positive actions to prosecute traffickers. Kuwait does not have a law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons. The government established a regulation banning the employment of minor children as camel jockeys, although effective enforcement has yet to occur. Other laws prohibiting visa and residency permit-trading, slavery, forced labor, rape, assault, kidnapping, prostitution, pimping, operating brothels, and coercing or fraudulently inducing prostitution are indirectly used to combat trafficking. In 2003, 114 criminal and 96 misdemeanor charges were brought against abusive employers, some of whom are believed to be labor and/or sex traffickers. A Bangladeshi man was convicted and sentenced to death for trafficking two foreign women. A woman was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, fined, and ordered deported for engaging in prostitution. Three Kuwait police officers were arrested and await trial for allegedly raping a Filipino trafficking victim. Numerous employers were required to pay their former employees overdue wages and furnish airline tickets to allow their victims to return home. In 2003, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor referred more than 2,000 labor violations, many related to trafficking, to its Labor Investigation Department.


In 2003, Kuwait made minimal efforts to protect trafficking victims. Domestic servants are not covered by Kuwait's Labor Law and consequently lack adequate legal protections. The government generally detains, jails, and deports trafficking victims if they are caught violating other laws material to their trafficking. The police have returned some victims to their abusive employers. Occasionally, the government provides limited financial assistance to victims, but it does not provide shelter nor does it provide visas to enable victims to pursue legal remedies. The government began requiring labor recruitment agencies to deposit money in a bank, which can be used to assist trafficking victims in the event they are repatriated. The Ministry of Interior has a department specifically responsible for licensing, regulating, and monitoring recruitment agencies that hire foreign domestic workers. The government closed 48 recruitment agencies and suspended the hiring privileges of 113 businesses for trafficking-related offenses. The Ministry also maintained a computerized database of "blacklisted" abusive employers barred from sponsoring domestic workers. In 2004, the government adopted a measure permit-ting some domestic servants to change employers.


In 2003, Kuwait implemented important prevention measures. It licensed the Kuwait Union of Domestic Labor Offices (an association of labor recruitment agencies) to raise awareness about the treatment of domestic servants, cooperated with Indonesia in the repatriation of approximately 190 domestic workers, established a temporary inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee to discuss anti-trafficking efforts and the treatment of domestic servants, and worked with the Government of the Philippines to ensure that Philippine nationals have documented evidence of overseas work authorization before Kuwaiti officials can issue them visas. In February 2004, the government banned the employment of expatriate women in billiard clubs in an effort to combat sex-related trafficking.

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