Every now and then, we are surprised by decisions issued by the Public Authority for Manpower that do not take into account the humanitarian aspects of a country that is described as the center of humanitarian action throughout the world. “No renewal of work permits for those aged 60 and above from the general secondary holders and below” is the most prominent decisions of the Public Authority for Manpower, which deals with migrant labor in Kuwait, without regard to the fact that many migrants in the State of Kuwait have grown up therein and have lived there for the rest of their lives, as well as their sons and grandsons, and only a passport links them to their homelands, not to mention that many come from unstable countries and their exit may pose a real threat to their security and life.
The Kuwait Society for Human Rights considers that this decision has no interest in the demographics or the National Employment Service. It also believes that it has been given too much time without any desirable benefit. At the same time, it is surprising that it has been retracted more than once and that it has been modified in a completely incomprehensible manner. We were surprised by the news that representatives of civil society have been met, and we, as a civil society organization concerned with human rights and the protection of the rights of migrant workers, question the names of civil society organizations with which they have met and who have agreed on the new and exaggerated financial fee for this group.
It is inconceivable that the fees for work permit and residency are ten dinars and then become thousands of dinars, not to mention the obligation of having private health insurance in addition to state health insurance. These proposals reflect negatively on the role of the State of Kuwait in the legal forums. This is what we reject and what we call on the Authority to review the decision.
We, at the Kuwait Society for Human Rights, have recently signed a Partnership Agreement with the U.S. – Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) to protect the rights of migrant workers in the State of Kuwait. Part of our national duty and our specialization in human rights and in order to protect migrant workers, we recommend the following:
First: Rescinding this decision based on humanity, as it poses a real threat to the lives of some migrant workers.
Second: We reiterate the call on the Government of State of Kuwait to assume its responsibilities to abolish the Kafala System (Sponsorship System) and set an alternative system that protects the rights of everyone.
Third: We urge the Government of the State of Kuwait to explore the necessity of adapting the national legislation, including administrative decisions that regulate and supplement laws, in conformity with its international human rights obligations and the instruments and conventions to which it is a party, in particular the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Fourth: We recommend the necessity of issuing decisions based on specialized studies and research, and we recommend that these decisions be seriously discussed with representatives of the relevant public interest associations.
Fifth: We reiterate our claim for joining the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW).
We also call for enforcing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in the Arab Region (GCM), adopted in December 2018 in Marrakech, Morocco, as a politically binding and not legally binding Convention aimed at regulating the conditions of about 272 million migrants in the world.