U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Kuwait
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Kuwait, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8965d.html [accessed 25 April 2014]|
Kuwait (Tier 2 Watch List)
Kuwait is a destination country for men and women who migrate legally from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, and the Philippines for domestic or low-skilled labor, but are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude by employers in Kuwait. Victims suffer conditions including physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, confinement to the home, and withholding of passports to restrict their freedom of movement. Kuwait is reportedly a transit point for South and East Asian workers recruited by Kuwaiti labor recruitment agencies for low-skilled work in Iraq; some of these workers are deceived as to the true location and nature of this work, and others are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in Iraq. In past years, Kuwait was also a destination country for children from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, and Eritrea exploited as camel jockeys; this form of trafficking appears to have ceased.
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. Kuwait is placed on Tier 2 Watch List because its significant efforts, as assessed by this Report, are based largely on pledges of future efforts over the coming year. The government plans to enforce a decree for standardized contracts that provide some security for domestic workers and has publicly announced that passing a draft labor law through parliament that would criminalize the exploitation of foreign workers is a top priority. This year, the government identified the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor as the central agency coordinating the government's anti-trafficking activities, and the inter-ministerial committee on expatriate labor issued recommendations regarding minimum wages, reducing visa trading, and establishing a standard contract for domestic workers. The government enforced compliance with a ban on child camel jockeys enacted last year and replaced children with robot jockeys. The government convicted some employers for labor rights abuses, but it is unclear whether any of these convictions resulted in prison sentences. The government also did not extend labor law protection to foreign domestic workers. Although a local employment recruitment agency took steps to build a shelter for abused foreign workers, the local municipality closed down the site of this private shelter on a zoning violation that has yet to be resolved.
The Government of Kuwait took inadequate measures to punish trafficking crimes over the last year. Kuwait lacks a specific anti-trafficking law, but used other sections of its criminal code to prosecute trafficking-related offenses. The government obtained 451 convictions for failure to provide official documents for the hiring of foreign workers and 258 convictions for hiring workers from abroad and then not providing them with work. However, the Government of Kuwait does not report assigning jail sentences to any of those convicted. Less scrupulous Kuwaiti labor agencies continued to recruit South and East Asian laborers, reportedly using deceptive and fraudulent offers and coercive techniques to meet demand in Iraq for cheap third-country national (TCN) labor. The government did not attempt to regulate this lucrative trade of workers through Kuwait. The government provided no specific law enforcement training on trafficking in persons, although one police station has responsibility for investigating trafficking crimes. Kuwait should increase investigations and prosecutions for foreign domestic worker abuse, including cases involving physical and sexual abuse, under its criminal laws, assign criminal penalties sufficient to deter future acts, such as jail sentences, and train its law enforcement officers and prosecutors on methods of investigating and prosecuting trafficking offenses.
During the year, Kuwait did not noticeably improve its protection of victims of trafficking and trafficking-related abuses. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOSAL) has established a labor dispute center (for non-domestic workers) to assist workers in salary disputes. In addition, labor source countries report that the government provided increased numbers of Kuwaiti mediators to help foreign workers resolve domestic workplace disputes with their Kuwaiti employers. Moreover, the government gave a greater role to diplomats of labor source countries in advocating for workers in the dispute process. Foreign workers are permitted to file civil suits against their employers and, though cases move slowly through the courts, these suits are often settled in favor of the workers. The Ministry of Interior suspended in the past year 163 domestic labor agencies for illegal practices, such as selling visa or residence permits or both to workers, who arrive in Kuwait to find there is no work or even that the company does not really exist. The government does not otherwise provide medical, psychological, or legal aid to victims of trafficking, preferring to rely primarily on source country embassies to assist their nationals. Kuwait does not have a screening system to distinguish trafficking victims from illegal immigrants, again depending on embassies to perform this service. The government enforces laws that only allow incoming domestic workers to be picked up from the airport by government licensed agencies that have already agreed to a contract with the worker. These agencies are then responsible for the workers' welfare for six months. In July, the Ministry of Interior issued a decree requiring a tripartite contract for domestic workers to be signed by the recruitment agency, employer, and employee, outlining the rights of the domestic employee. The Ministry has set August 2006 as the implementation date for the decree in order to allow Kuwaiti embassies abroad time to establish the necessary administrative procedures. The government is in the process of issuing a license to KUDLO to establish a privately-run shelter. In early February, however, the Kuwait Municipality closed down KUDLO headquarters on a zoning violation that has yet to be resolved. The government should take immediate steps to establish and support a shelter that provides a range of protective services to trafficking victims, institute a screening mechanism to identify victims, and formally extend protection to domestic workers.
Kuwait's efforts at preventing trafficking in persons improved. With U.S. assistance, the government is launching a public awareness campaign featuring a wallet-sized card with information on the dangers of trafficking. The cards were distributed at airports, health clinics, and in source countries targeting East and South Asian workers in Kuwait.