The head of Kuwait’s traffic directorate has defended the recent deportation of scores of expats over traffic violations by comparing running a red light to premeditated or attempted murder.
Major General Abdul Fattah Al-Ali on Tuesday confirmed 213 expats had been removed from the country in the past week under a crackdown on repeat traffic offenders.
Defending the decision, he said using a private vehicle as a taxi violated labour and residency laws, while driving without a licence was equal to working without a permit.
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.
Head of Kuwait Labour Union’s expatriate office Abdulrahman Al- Ghanem said in a statement it would have economic and social consequences for the country, which should instead be focusing its attention on punishing visa traders.
Traffic offences should be dealt with through fines or license suspensions, he said.
Al-Ghanem claimed the government was blaming expats for the country’s demographic imbalance and had resorted to oppressive measures against them.
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Social Affairs has announced it plans to cut expat numbers by 100,000 each of the next 10 years. Expats make-up about two-thirds of the country’s population of 3.8 million and relied on for menial work as well as high level expertise.
Many in the country’s private sector fear the oil-rich nation - in which about 90 percent of national workers are employed by the bloated public sector - is not prepared for self-sufficiency.
However, Al-Ali said the law allowed for deporting expats on the basis of repeat traffic offences.
“According to our criminal and penal laws, penalties for such violations include deportation,” he said, according to Kuwait Times.
“The law also authorizes the MOI [Ministry of Interior] to deport expats in [the] public interest in case they commit repeated crimes or violations.”
He said citizens also were severely punished for repeat traffic offences, citing the case of a national who was recently jailed for three months.