Iraqi premier warns protesters, makes small concession

Updated 03 January 2013
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Iraqi premier warns protesters, makes small concession

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Premier, Nuri al-Maliki, has warned he will not tolerate anti-government rallies indefinitely, but made a concession to their demands by promising to free some women prisoners. Thousands of Sunnis have been taking to the streets of Iraq for more than a week in protest against Maliki.
Separately, authorities said five people have been killed in a string of attacks across the country.
Police said that in the first attack, gunmen fatally shot a policeman and his brother who is a member of anti-Al-Qaeda group north of Baghdad. In the western province of Anbar, a car bomb targeting the house of a police colonel in Fallujah killed the officer’s neighbor but left the colonel unharmed.
Another car bomb struck a group of people heading to Karbala, killing two people. Hospital officials confirmed the causalities. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to the media.
Violence has ebbed in Iraq, but insurgent attacks are still frequent.
Separaely, Baghdad and London are discussing a prisoner transfer deal that could see a British security guard convicted of murder in Iraq serve the remainder of his sentence in his home country, officials said.
Justice Minister Hassan Al-Shammari has been invited to London to finalize and sign a memorandum of understanding over the transfer of convicts between the two countries, and while the deal would not solely affect Danny Fitzsimons, he would be a key beneficiary.
Fitzsimons became the first Western contractor to be convicted of a crime by an Iraqi court when he was sentenced to life in prison, equivalent to 20 years in jail under Iraqi law, in February 2011 for killing a Briton and an Australian in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone in August 2009. “The British are insisting to make an agreement with Iraq, to take Danny Fitzsimons,” Justice Ministry spokesman Haidar Al-Saadi told AFP.
“We received an invitation from the (British) ambassador to go there and sign the agreement.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a British diplomat told AFP that the deal was “not targeted at any specific individual, but that’s not to say he (Fitzsimons) won’t benefit from it.” Fitzsimons, a former British soldier who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, had insisted throughout his trial that he had acted in self-defense.
He told the court in west Baghdad that fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare had burst into his room and pinned him down before pointing an M4 rifle at his face, prompting him to use his pistol to kill them. He also wounded an Iraqi guard before being detained.
Fitzsimons was the first Westerner to be tried in Iraq following the US-led invasion of 2003.
Foreign security contractors had not been subject to Iraqi law until the beginning of 2009, when a security agreement between the United States and Iraq lifted their immunity.


Kuwait-Philippines joint monitoring to ensure OFWs’ welfare are met, labor expert says

Updated 30 min 51 sec ago
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Kuwait-Philippines joint monitoring to ensure OFWs’ welfare are met, labor expert says

DUBAI: The creation of a joint committee that would monitor the welfare Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait, particularly the household service workers, should ensure a faster response to cases of abuse, a labor and migration expert said Wednesday.
“The joint committee would help a lot in making sure that the welfare of [Filipino] workers are taken care of since they will regularly monitor the situation,” Emmanuel S. Geslani told Arab News in a telephone interview.
“The committee would also ensure that there would be an immediate response to abuse cases that would be lodged with the Philippine embassy [in Kuwait],” Geslani added.
The labor attaché in Kuwait will head the Philippine representation, while Kuwaiti immigration and foreign affairs officials will form the counterpart group for the joint committee, Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III told a legislative hearing on Wednesday.
The joint committee will be convened after Ramadan to finalize procedures for the enforcement of the Memorandum of Understanding, signed on May 11, which strengthened the diplomatic and labor relations between the Philippines and Kuwait after an earlier row over the supposed ‘rescue’ of domestic workers in the Gulf country.
Bello also announced that the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait would resume next week after consulting President Rodrigo Duterte, who imposed a ban in February following numerous cases of abuse and murder of Filipino workers including that of housemaid Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found stuffed in a freezer more than a year after she reported missing.
“They [non-skilled workers] can start traveling to Kuwait next week while skilled workers who are not covered by the MoU can fly out as early as tomorrow,” Bello said, as the guidelines on household service workers’ recruitment and deployment would be released next week.
Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them working in homes, latest deployment figures show.
“The guidelines should ensure that employers [of house helpers in Kuwait] would comply with the MoU and have an immediate response, because definitely some will not follow,” Geslani said, since Kuwaiti police and immigration authorities now have an established partnership with Philippine government representatives.