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HRW slams Kuwait for exploitation of migrant workers

  Qatar to guarantee remuneration

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticised Kuwait for not being sincere in protecting migrant workers’ rights. Migrant domestic workers have minimum protection against employers who withhold salaries, force to work long hours with no day-off, deprive them of food and abuse them physically and sexually, the rights group said.

Releasing a 97-page report on “Walls at Every Turn: Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers Through Kuwait’s Sponsorship Programme”, HRW has criticised the Kuwaiti government’s domestic helps’ hiring process, saying no labour laws favour domestic helps.

The report explains how domestic helps are trapped in the net of abusive employers. “Domestic helps trying to escape abusive employers face criminal charges for absconding and are unable to change jobs without employer’s permission,” it said.

Government authorities arrest workers reported as absconding and in most cases deport them from Kuwait even if they have been abused and are seeking relief. Employers have all the rights in Kuwait, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle-East Director at HRW.

Kuwait, a country of 1.3 million people, has more than 660,000 migrant domestic helps. Domestic helps are excluded from labour laws that protect other workers. Even the law related to migrant workers which was revised in February, 2011, has not included domestic helps in the security network.

According to HRW, over 10,000 domestic helps from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Philippines have registered complaints with their respective embassies, seeking intervention. They did not get any relief in the matter because the legal framework act against migrant workers, especially those from abroad.

But most of them are deported to homeland or compelled to work for abusive employees.

Kuwait is not open for Nepali domestic helps but their number is above 30,000 in Kuwait. They have reached through illegal channels or human traffickers.

It is estimated that daily 20 to 30 Nepali women reach Kuwait via India every day.

Qatar to guarantee remuneration

KATHMANDU: Qatar is mulling worker-friendly policy to safeguard foreign workers in the country, The Peninsula reported on Thursday. As per the plan, the country will provide guarantee to foreign workers for their remuneration. For this, the Qatari government is making it mandatory for private firms to provide monthly details of salaries to the government. Qatar has a large number of expatriate workers, many of whom are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, who have sometimes raised issues of poor living conditions and the non-payment of wages. Over 300,000 Nepalis are believed to be working in Qatar as it is the second-most preferred destination after Malaysia.

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