Visa traffickers in Kuwait make $860 million per year

May 5, 2010

Visa traffickers in Kuwait make about KD 250 million ($860 million) annually, a human rights consultant has said.

The alarming figure is part of an international trade that generates $ 60 billion annually.

“This is sad and disgusting and should be stopped,” Dr Nasser Al Masri, told a seminar on “Human Trafficking”, organized in Kuwait City by the Kuwait Center for Expatriate Rights, an affiliate of the Kuwait Umbrella Action (KUA).

Al Masri urged Kuwaitis to help put an end to the trafficking trade and human rights abuses of expatriates, saying that five decades ago Kuwait faced terrible times and as people were dying of hunger, thirst and disease, many Kuwaitis sought employment in India and other countries.

Kuwaitis should recall such hard times and respect the rights of other people, he said.

MP Waleed Al Tabtabai told the participants that there was a need to establish an independent public authority for human rights and to have a bill that criminalizes human trafficking, in order to protect the rights of domestic workers in Kuwait.

The lawmaker said that a proposal by Dr Obaid Al Wasmi, a University of Kuwait legal expert, to establish a criminal court for human rights should be supported.

“The Parliamentary Human Rights Committee is currently studying a bill proposed by MP Saleh Ashour to protect the rights of about 700,000 domestic workers,” he said.

Domestic helpers are not included in a recently enacted labour law that, although did not fully abolish the controversial sponsorship law, has given employees more rights and better working conditions.

Lawmakers argued that difficulties to inspect the homes where the helpers work make it impossible for labour inspectors to check or monitor their work conditions.

Last month, labour and social development minister pledged to continue a strong move to fight trafficking in visas and abuses of expatriate workers by unscrupulous companies and individuals.

Mohammad Al Afassi who is heading a drive to give foreign labourers more rights and eliminate abuses by visa traffickers said that he would not be intimidated by people benefiting from the presence of marginalized labourers and bogus companies.

More than 1.2 million foreigners have jobs in Kuwait and, with their families, make up around 2.2 million of a total population of 3.3 million.





About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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