Kuwait deports 1,258 expats in a month

Senior gov't official says deportations carried out amid crackdown on traffic offences
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Courtney Trenwith
Sun 19 May 2013 12:08 PM

Kuwait has deported 1,258 expats for traffic violations in the past month, a senior government official has told local Arabic media.

The Gulf country launched a crackdown on repeat or serious traffic offenders four weeks ago, including returning more than 200 people home within the first few days.

Thousands of vehicles also have been seized, while 1005 have been taken to a scrapheap to be destroyed, Interior Ministry undersecretary assistant for traffic affairs Major General Abdulfattah Al-Ali told Al-Anba newspaper.

The deportations have been criticised by the Kuwait Labour Union and former MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji, who claim they are a violation of human rights and are illegal.

However, Al-Ali has defended the program by comparing running a red light to premeditated or attempted murder and claiming that using a private vehicle as a taxi violated labour and residency laws, while driving without a license was equal to working without a permit.

The offences targeted by the traffic department include driving without a license, running a red light, illegally carrying passengers and exceeding the speed limit by more than 40km/h.

Al-Ali said the vehicles to be destroyed were a 1985 model or earlier and failed to meet safety standards.

He said numerous fake driver’s licences also had been discovered and legal action would be taken against those who had them or had issued them.

Fake licences are relatively common in Kuwait, where foreigners must meet strict conditions to obtain a valid driver’s license, including having a university degree, a minimum monthly salary of KD400.

The oil-rich country has been accused of targeting expats in recent times as it seeks to rebalance the population of 3.8m, of which about two-thirds are foreigners.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Social Affairs has announced it plans to cut expat numbers by 100,000 each of the next 10 years.

It also confirmed on Saturday it would begin its segregation of expats and nationals at public medical clinics and hospitals on June 1.

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