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Kuwait minister pledges to fight trafficking

Al Rasheedi planning ‘numerous practical measures’

Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s social affairs and labour minister has pledged stringent action against anyone involved in human trafficking.

The move comes as part of a drive to put an end to the violation of expatriates’ rights, Dhikra Al Rasheedi said on Sunday.

Kuwait has been criticised by international organisations for abuse committed by some of its citizens on foreigners working or seeking work in the Gulf country.

Kuwait officials have been pushing for an elimination of the trafficking in people phenomenon that is closely related to the controversial sponsorship system which prevails in the Gulf.

Under the system, no foreigner can take up a job or switch jobs or enter or leave the country without the consent of a citizen sponsor.

Traffickers use the system to recruit people, often from Asia, on false claims and bogus company needs. The ‘recruited’ foreigners either pay a large sum ahead of obtaining the visa or pay the ‘recruiter’ in monthly installments.

In September, Kuwait arrested two people for their role in a major forgery case to recruit 300 workers through visa trading.

According to the police, a company owned by a Kuwaiti man forged documents to claim that it owned 300 vehicles for freight transportation, whereas traffic documents showed that, in fact, it had only 14 vehicles.

The company said that it needed more drivers for the vehicles and recruited 279 foreigners with each paying KD700 (Dh9132) for the visa to enter Kuwait.

Efforts by Gulf officials to put an end to trafficking have often been defeated by well-organised traffickers both in the expatriates’ home nations and in the Gulf countries.

The Kuwaiti minister said that she would seek to put an end to the phenomenon that has tarnished her country’s reputation.

Dhikra Al Rasheedi, one of two women in the new Kuwaiti cabinet formed this month following the parliamentary elections, said that she had also requested a detailed report on the status and work of charity funds to address all issues.

The minister said that she was gaining insights into all the sectors of her ministry and that she would take “numerous practical measures” that would be announced gradually.