Earlier this week, Kuwait and the international community marked International Domestic Workers’ Day, recognizing the important contributions domestic workers make to the lives of millions of families worldwide. The violence and abuse domestic workers and other vulnerable people suffer at the hands of some human traffickers are painful reminders that nations must act to eliminate human trafficking and guarantee safe and humane working conditions for all.
Each year the United States Department of State issues its Trafficking in Persons Report as part of a worldwide effort to eliminate trafficking. This year’s report, released on June 20, reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to leadership on this issue and the Government of Kuwait’s increasing effort to fight this scourge. As a humanitarian leader, Kuwait has made important strides to prevent exploitation and eliminate trafficking. A national committee is carrying out the government’s anti-trafficking strategy; it is beginning to implement a national referral mechanism that will assist victims. Using the anti-trafficking law, in some cases for the first time, government agencies expanded targeting of human traffickers, visa traders, and abusive employers – resulting in an increase in prosecutions and convictions. Agencies have also increased raids against illegal domestic labor recruitment offices that exploit runaway domestic workers – referring recruiting violators to the public prosecutor and victims to a government-run shelter.
While Kuwait has come a long way, there is more that the Government of Kuwait needs to do to fully meet internationally recognized minimum standards. The Trafficking in Persons Report lists these recommendations:
- Increase investigation, prosecution, and conviction of traffickers under the 2013 anti-trafficking law.
- Screen for trafficking indicators among vulnerable populations to ensure victims are not wrongfully penalized or deported for acts that traffickers compelled them to commit.
- Reform the sponsorship-based employment system; allow workers to change employers without employer approval and cease prosecution of workers who flee their employment.
- Increase investigation and punishment of employers who confiscate workers’ passports.
- Train officials to proactively identify and refer to protection services victims of trafficking.
- Continue to strengthen enforcement of the domestic labor law to ensure workers’ rights are protected.
- Eliminate worker-paid recruitment fees.
- Open a shelter to accommodate male trafficking victims.
- Hold regular meetings of the national committee to strengthen implementation of the national anti-trafficking strategy.
- Raise anti-trafficking awareness, particularly among vulnerable populations, including domestic workers.
The Kuwaiti and U.S. governments continue to work closely together on this issue. We look forward to even greater cooperation and further progress in the coming year in our mutual commitment to end human trafficking. Congratulations to domestic workers on their day, and to Kuwait for its progress in combatting trafficking in persons!