Kuwait suspends new visas for Filipino workers over human rights disputes


KUWAIT (Reuters) – Kuwait has indefinitely suspended all new visas for Filipino citizens after strife between oil-rich Gulf states and Manila over labor protections and employer rights escalated, the interior ministry said. acknowledged this week.

Filipinos make up about 6% of Kuwait’s population of 4.7 million, according to government data. Kuwaitis account for 32%.

The visa suspension comes after the Philippines canceled its first domestic worker dispatch to Kuwait in February after the body of domestic worker Juleby Ranala was found in the Kuwaiti desert in January. It was conducted.

Many Filipinos work abroad, and about 10% of the country’s gross domestic product comes from remittances. In oil-rich Gulf countries like Kuwait, many work as low-wage domestic workers, where visa schemes bind workers to one employer and migrant workers They are vulnerable to abuse by their employers, including confiscation of passports.

The Interior Ministry announced Wednesday that the Philippines had violated a bilateral labor agreement. The two countries signed the agreement in 2018 following a previous dispute over worker protection following the deaths of multiple domestic workers.

The offenses listed include detaining workers in shelters, searching for fugitives without going through state agencies, communicating with Kuwaiti citizens without permission from the authorities, and asking Kuwaiti employers to hire them. This includes pressure to add clauses to contracts.

A week ago, the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department said all actions taken by the Philippine embassy and government were “to ensure the safety and welfare of its citizens.”

“It is a well-established obligation of consulates under international law and international treaties to protect their nationals abroad,” the statement said.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Ahmed Hagagie and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Conor Humphries)