New Kuwait measures raise bias concerns among expats

May 20, 2013

The implementation of a warning by the Kuwaiti authorities to deport hundreds of expatriates for committing “grave traffic violations” coupled with a controversial decision by the health authorities to limit morning hospital check-ups for Kuwaitis have sparked a heated debate and caused concerns among foreigners in the country.

The health decision was seen as an ominous expectation of difficult times ahead for foreigners increasingly unsure about the consequences of the new politically motivated orientations.

Earlier, the announcement that one million foreigners would be deported over the next ten years sent a chill throughout their community. Assurances that it would not affect skilled and semi-skilled expats have not allayed concerns.

Local media reported that marginal foreign labourers “have gone into hiding to avoid being caught or deported”.

In announcing that Kuwait deported 1,258 foreigners in the last four weeks after they were implicated in serious traffic offences, Abdul Fattah Al Ali, the undersecretary for traffic, said that the aim was to improve security on the country’s roads.

“The recent decisions taken by the traffic authorities want to make sure there is discipline on the road and a respect of the laws,” he said. “The goal is not abusing drivers or exploiting them to obtain extra funds for the national treasury. It is just making sure there is full compliance with the traffic laws,” he said in remarks published by local daily Al Anba.

Under the decision, expatriates caught for serious traffic offences for the fifth time are deported.

Those who are deported are barred from returning to Kuwait.

The decision was attacked by a human rights watchdog as “oppressive”.

“The oppressive measure against expatriates violates the basic principles of human rights,” the Kuwait Human Rights Society said.

However, Abdul Majid, a government officer, said that the decision to deport drivers who committed serious traffic violations was justified.

“Why should someone who causes five serious accidents be allowed on the roads?” he asked. “We understand there is a human side to the story, but Kuwait should not allow someone who could cause the death of others or damage to property in the country.”

Writing in Kuwait Times, columnist Muna Al Fuzai wondered “who is making all these deportation calls”.

“If there is indeed any need to reduce the number of expats here, then this is not the right way to do it,” she wrote. “If this country does not want more expats, then it is better not to let them come in the first place… If anyone threatens someone’s life or causes death, I can understand that the person will have to go to jail and then be deported. However, using traffic violations as an excuse for deporting people is something I cannot make my peace with.”



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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