Duterte bans Philippine nationals from working in Kuwait

In this file photo, Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte Rodrigo Duterte gestures during a news conference on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, Nov. 14, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 January 2018
0

Duterte bans Philippine nationals from working in Kuwait

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has banned Philippine citizens from traveling to Kuwait to work following reports of widespread abuse and exploitation, his spokesman said Saturday.
Duterte ordered the ban after reports emerged about the deaths of several Filipino women in the Gulf state, his spokesman Harry Roque said.
“In line with his presidential pronouncement, Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello has ordered the suspension of the deployment of workers to Kuwait,” Roque told reporters.
“There is really excessive suffering over there,” Roque said, adding that the ban was “long overdue.”
An estimated 10 million Filipinos work overseas and the money they send home is a major pillar of the Philippine economy.
It was not immediately clear how long the ban, which does not affect workers already in Kuwait, would last.
In his speech before overseas workers on Thursday, Duterte said he would urge the Kuwaiti government to act against the abuses.
“My advice is, we talk to them, state the truth and just tell them that it’s not acceptable anymore. Either we impose a total ban or we can have (disagreements),” Duterte said.
“I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait. I respect their leaders, but they have to do something about this,” he added.
Spokesmen for the Kuwaiti embassy in Manila could not be reached for comment.
Kuwait has faced criticism in the past over its “kafala” system for foreign workers which has been likened to a form of bonded labor or even slavery.
The kafala system prevents workers from moving to a new job before their contracts end without their boss’s consent, resulting in a wide range of abuses.
The Gulf state is a major destination for migrant workers with the Kuwaiti government estimating that more than 170,000 Philippine nationals live there. Other groups have far higher estimates.


Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

Updated 17 min 16 sec ago
0

Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

TUTICORIN, India: A protester shot during demonstrations against a copper plant in southern India died of his injuries Thursday, officials said, the 13th victim killed by police fire.
A curfew remained in pockets of Tuticorin city in Tamil Nadu state where police used live ammunition to disperse protesters this week, provoking international outrage and demands for an immediate investigation.
Calls for the copper smelting plant owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources to be closed had been building in recent months, with residents complaining it was polluting their city.
The resistance came to a head Tuesday when police stopped a crowd of thousands from protesting outside the factory.
Cars and buildings were set ablaze and rocks hurled at police, who responded with live fire. Eleven demonstrators were shot dead and many people injured in the melee, including 20 police.
Another protester died Wednesday when he was struck by rubber bullets in a second day of protests.
The latest victim died in hospital Thursday, two days after being injured, doctors said.
“He was brought in a critical condition with bullet injuries and died today,” a doctor at the local hospital said.
The chief minister of Tamil Nadu has ordered an inquiry but defended the actions of police, which the state’s opposition leader called “mass murder.”
“The police have a duty during protests to maintain law and order, but lethal force can only be used if there is an imminent threat to life,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
“Tamil Nadu authorities need to carry out a prompt and credible investigation to determine if police used excessive force.”
Internet services have been blocked across the city for five days. Police justified the blackout to stop the spread of information that could incite further violence as they search for those behind Tuesday’s arson attacks.
Environmentalists and locals say the factory contaminates water and air, claims its owners deny.
The company has sought to renew the license of the temporarily non-operational plant and hopes to double its production capacity.
But a state court Wednesday ordered that it cease any further construction at the new site.
The ruling came just hours after Tamil Nadu’s pollution board ordered the existing plant be shut and its power supply cut until a verdict is made on its licensing application.