Philippine president Duterte threatens to ban deployment of workers to Kuwait

The Philippine president has threatened to impose a total ban on sending workers to Kuwait. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 January 2018

Philippine president Duterte threatens to ban deployment of workers to Kuwait

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Thursday to impose a total ban on sending workers to Kuwait because of sexual abuses that have forced some Filipino women to kill themselves.
Duterte said he wanted Filipino officials to hold talks with Kuwait and tell them the abuses are unacceptable and that the Philippines may ban Filipinos from working there unless the abuses end.
"I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait. I respect their leaders but they have to do something about this because many Filipinas will commit suicide," Duterte said in a speech at the launching of a Manila bank for Filipinos abroad.
"We have lost about four Filipino women in the last few months. It's always in Kuwait," Duterte said, without providing details.
Discussing the problem with Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recently, Duterte said: "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 this corrected."
More than 250,000 Filipinos work in the Arab nation. The Philippines is a major labor exporter with about a tenth of more than 100 million Filipinos working abroad. The earnings they send home have bolstered the Philippine economy for decades.
Workers endure the threat of abuses, including rape, in some countries to be able to send money home and keep their children in school. But with their parents working abroad, some children end up being sexually abused or become drug addicts, Duterte said, explaining his anger over drug dealers.
Thousands of mostly poor suspects have been killed in Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs since he took power in 2016, alarming Western governments and human rights groups.
Duterte has denied he condones extrajudicial killings, although he has openly threatened drug dealers with death for years.
He credits his harsh approach to crime for the improvement in law and order in southern Davao city, where he served as mayor for more than two decades before becoming president.
He said about 600 criminals were killed during his time as mayor, but added "It was all legit."
"I never ordered the killing of anybody kneeling in front of me," he said. "You have to kill to make your city peaceful."


11 million North Koreans are undernourished: UN investigator

Quintana said collective farming and the failure to allow farmers to benefit from individual plots of land is further exacerbating food insecurity. (AFP)
Updated 28 sec ago

11 million North Koreans are undernourished: UN investigator

  • The resumption of Mt Kumgang tours has been repeatedly mentioned as a possibility by South Korean President Moon Jae-in in recent years

UNITED NATIONS: Food insecurity in North Korea “is at an alarming level,” with nearly half the population — 11 million people — undernourished, the UN independent investigator on human rights in the country said Tuesday.
Tomas Ojea Quintana told the General Assembly’s human rights committee that 140,000 children are estimated to be suffering from “undernutrition,” including 30,000 who “face an increased risk of death.”
Quintana said the government, which has primary responsibility for ensuring access to food, “is violating its human rights obligations due to its failing economic and agricultural policies.”
In addition, he said, “climate conditions, infertile land, natural disasters and the negative impact of sanctions have contributed to further food insecurity.”
More broadly, Quintana said he has seen no improvement in North Korea’s human rights situation during his three years as special rapporteur.
“The country’s economic resources are being diverted away from the essential needs of the people,” he said. “Pervasive discrimination in the public distribution system means that ordinary citizens, especially farmers and people in rural areas, have not been receiving any rations.”
Quintana said collective farming and the failure to allow farmers to benefit from individual plots of land is further exacerbating food insecurity.
“At the same time, the government has failed to put in place conditions where people can securely engage in trade and exchange in marketplaces without facing criminalization, extortion and other forms of abuse,” he said. Nonetheless, he added, the vast majority of North Koreans “are now engaged in such market activity for their survival.”
Ironically, he said, the government’s failure to regulate nascent market activity is creating increasing inequality based on wealth, “where only those with money have access to basic rights such as education, health care, freedom of movement and adequate housing.”
Quintana said severe restrictions on basic freedoms continue to be widespread, including surveillance and close monitoring of civilians.
“North Korean people continue to live in the entrenched fear of being sent to a political prison camp,” called a kwanliso, he said.
“If you are considered to be a spy of the hostile countries or a traitor, when in reality you are simply exercising your basic human rights, you can be suddenly taken by agents of the Ministry of State Security to a kwanliso and never be seen again,” Quintana said. “Suspects’ families are never informed of the decisions or of the whereabouts of their relatives.”
On the issue of North Koreans who have fled to China, Quintana said in the past six months he has received information from family members living in South Korea of an increasing number of these escapees being detained in China.
He said any North Korean who escapes should not be forcibly returned because there are substantial grounds they would be tortured or subjected to other human rights violations.
“I appreciate the government of China’s increased engagement with me on this concern, and I hope that this will lead to greater compliance with international standards,” he said.
Quintana said North Korea has accepted 132 recommendations from other UN member states, including one “to grant immediate, free and unimpeded access to international humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to the most vulnerable groups, including prisoners.” He said this could lead to the first international access to places of detention, “and could therefore be an opportunity to improve prison conditions.”