UN official urges Kuwait to end 'kafala' sponsorship system

UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking said move would decrease trafficking of migrant workers in Kuwait

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Maria Grazia Giammarinaro has called on Kuwait to end its kafala sponsorship system to allow for a safer working environments for migrant workers facing human trafficking.

Giammarinaro said yesterday some domestic workers in Kuwait have either been forced into prostitution or have fled their employers following physical and mental abuse, reported Kuwait Times.

“In order to be successful in the struggle against trafficking, the government of Kuwait should also consider to deal with the general context of migration and labour regulations that produce social vulnerabilities,” she said.

“This is the reason why the kafala system should be abolished and replaced by a different regulation, allowing migrant workers to enjoy substantial freedom in the labour market,” Giammarinaro added.

However, the official praised Kuwait’s recent measures to improve the situation of expat workers, including the setting up of shelters for female domestic helpers who flee their employers.

“This accomplishment is even more significant given that exploitation is of domestic workers is prevalent in the region. I encourage the government and institutions of Kuwait to continue in this direction and redouble efforts to better prevent trafficking and protect its victims,” the UN official said.

Giammarinaro has also asked authorities to pay owing dues to expat employees and allow them to switch employers without constraint. She has suggested the establishment of a “victim fund” to provide aid for victims of trafficking.

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