Ban on Filipino workers in Kuwait may ‘do more harm than good’

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday threatened to permanently ban Filipinos from working in Kuwait.(AFP)
Updated 27 January 2018

Ban on Filipino workers in Kuwait may ‘do more harm than good’

LONDON: Imposing a ban on Filipinos working in Gulf states may “do more harm than good” as it could push workers to resort to unsafe and unregulated channels, a human rights group has warned.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday threatened to permanently ban Filipinos from working in Kuwait, as well as withdraw his countrymen from working there if another Filipino domestic helper is raped and dies, it was reported this week.
The Philippines Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last week suspended the processing of overseas employment certificates for workers bound for Kuwait following the deaths of Filipino workers who had allegedly suffered sexual abuses by their employers, according to Philippines media.
Duterte said last week that four Filipinos had died in Kuwait over the past few months in apparent suicides, AFP reported. Duterte has since asked the governments of Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries, where more than a million Filipinos work, to take steps to end the abuse and “to treat my countrymen as human beings with dignity.”
But instead of banning Filipinos from working in Kuwait, the Philippines president should demand stronger protections, Human Rights Watch (HRW) women’s rights division researcher Rothna Begum said in a statement on the organization’s website.
“Such a ban would likely do more harm than good, forcing workers to take greater risks to seek overseas employment while cutting off a critical source of income for families in the Philippines,” Begum said.
HRW recommends the Philippines government seeks to advocate an end to the “abusive” kafala (visa sponsorship) system which ties migrant workers to their employers and prohibits them from leaving or changing jobs without their employer’s permission.
More than 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, the Philippine foreign ministry estimates, most of them as domestic helpers. There are also large numbers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“The experience of other countries like Indonesia, that have instituted bans on their nationals similar to that threatened by President Duterte, is that such bans do not end these abuses,” Begum added.
Instead, improved cooperation with Middle East governments to work alongside the Philippines embassy to help rescue workers in distress and conduct investigations into worker deaths is recommended, the HRW researcher said.
Kuwait initially expressed surprise at the ban and said it was in touch with Manila to try to resolve the issue.
Duterte said Kuwait was an ally, but abuse should not be tolerated.


Iranian hard-liners in parliament reject president’s nominee

Updated 20 min 58 sec ago

Iranian hard-liners in parliament reject president’s nominee

  • According to the parliament’s website, lawmakers rejected Hossein Modares Khiabani’s nomination for minister of trade and industries
  • Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said the vote was 140-104 against the nominee

TEHRAN, Iran: Iranian hard-liners in parliament on Wednesday voted against President Hassan Rouhani’s nominee for trade minister in the first showdown between the rival camps since the house resumed work in May despite the struggles to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the parliament’s website, lawmakers rejected Hossein Modares Khiabani’s nomination for minister of trade and industries.
Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said the vote was 140-104 against the nominee. There were 254 lawmakers at the session and 10 abstained. The parliament has 290 seats.
The vote marked the first serious confrontation between the newly elected house, dominated by conservatives and the bloc of supporters of the relatively moderate Rouhani. Under the law, Rouhani must introduce new nominees to his Cabinet in the next three months.
Rouhani in May dismissed the trade and industry minister at the time, Reza Rahmani, as Iran faced an unprecedented economic downturn amid intense pressure from the United States after President Donald Trump pulled America out of Iran’s nuclear with world powers and reimposed sanctions on the country. Khiabani, 52, had since been the acting trade minister.
Iran is also grappling with the largest and deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus in the Middle East, with more than 331,000 confirmed cases and at least 18,800 deaths.