Kuwait defends rights and freedoms record, but pledges to continue reforms

May 12, 2010
By

Kuwait on Wednesday defended its human rights and freedoms record, pledging to continue the reforms it had started earlier.

“Kuwait is genuinely keen on upholding human rights values in line with its rich heritage of caring about people,” Mohammad Al Affasi, the social affairs and labour minister, said. “Promoting the culture of human rights is not limited to the media, but is extended to basic education and college curricula, as well as military and security institutions,” the minister said at the Human Rights Council Eighth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva.

Al Affasi said that Kuwait was able to overcome the consequences of the 1990 invasion and achieve economic, security, social, and psychological stability.

“Kuwait today is an attractive destination for foreign manpower from different nationalities. Those monitoring human rights have to take a closer look at Kuwait to understand its democratic practice and its great ability to manage and protect the rights of people living on its territory,” he said. “The continued flow of manpower to Kuwait is proof that it is an institutional state where law prevails and where people’s rights are respected,” he said, quoted by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

The minister referred to Kuwaiti women gaining political rights and the enactment of a new labour law that guaranteed rights for the labour force working in private institutions, including minimum wage and the rights to switch jobs without prior consent from the previous employer.

However, the minister said that domestic workers were not covered by the private sector law.

“Yet, their needs are met through the law passed earlier this year to regulate the working relationship between the employer and the employee, and stipulating working hours, rest periods, and salaries,” he said. “Shelters have been set up for domestic workers who faced problems with their employers.”

According to Affasi, more human rights-related draft bills will be approved by parliament. “These include a law for combating human trafficking and a law to preserve the rights of children and their protection against violence.”

However, the minister said that despite the many achievements made by Kuwait in the field of human rights, the country continued to face the formidable challenge of the issue of stateless people residing in the country (Bidoon).

Al Affasi reiterated Kuwait’s commitment to establishing an independent human rights authority, in line with the Paris Principles, as well as to pass national legislation against human trafficking and on the rights of children.

Kuwait is one of 15 countries scheduled to present their human rights reports at the eighth session of the Universal Periodic Review conducted by the

Human Rights Council on May 3-14. The countries include Laos, Sweden, Turkey, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Guinea, Spain, Sweden, Lesotho, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Armenia, Grenada, Guyana and Belarus.
Kuwait had handed in its national report on human rights in February, in preparation for its discussion at the Human Rights Council. The report included feedback from ministries and government institutions as well as civil societies and NGOs.

UPR is one the council’s mechanisms to allow the UN member states sharing their attempt to boost and protect human rights in their own countries.

         

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About the author

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

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