Al-Watan Daily: "Are embassy labor departments to blame for rising fatalities?"

, ,

Are you for real Al-Watan Daily?! Embassies have very little authority in handling the issues of labor. First of all, recruitment is done in labourers' home countries, none of the recruitmet process has to do with the destination embassy. Secondly, Kuwaiti newspapers never have the "cojones" to use the word "blame" with any sort of Kuwaiti government institution when it comes to the pitiful labor record in this country. At the end of the day, this reputation is a reflection on the country's internal institutions and regulations. Embassies have nothing to do with that.

Here is what an embassy CAN do. They can repatriate citizens who come to their door. They can, as a reflection of their governments' decisions, put a ban on bringing citizens to Kuwait, as many countries have, or have threatened to do to Kuwait, and lastly, they can release public statements condemning pandemic abuse against their nationals, as the Philippines Embassy has done. The truth of the matter is that many embassies are going far beyond their mandate in this country, such as those who have begun to provide shelters for formerly abused domestic workers.

Asking embassies to work harder is targeting the problem at the source just about as well as a bandage on a broken limb. Embassies have marginal capacities and leverage to tackle the ABYSMAL record in this country on labor rights. I am pleased to see that Al-Watan is bringing to light the sharp and alarming increase in the number of fatalities and suicides of migrant workers in recent months, however, I am flabbergasted that this is the first culprit that Al-Watan Daily has identified as the source of the problem. You must be joking.

KUWAIT: The increase in number of fatalities among Asian workers in Kuwait has alarmingly risen in 2009. Several foreign nationals have raised concerns over this upsurge and many pinpoint the embassies and their labor offices as contributing to the increase in numbers. Al Watan Daily spoke to officials of five Asian embassies that refuted the accusations and explained the factors that contributed to the rise in numbers.

A counselor of the
Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait explained that the total number of death cases among its nationals in 2009 totals sixty nine with varying reasons that include suicide, sicknesses, accidents and other labor related incidents such as domestic helpers being beaten to death by employers. The counselor said that its embassy is equipped with personnel that look after legal cases field against their nationals by employers and vice versa.

"There are 300 nationals who are currently housed in our shelter and each of them receives legal, medical and psychological assistance. We provide repatriation on a daily basis so long as their cases have been resolved," disclosed the counselor.

He added that "The huge amount of fatalities that occurred in 2009 is relatively high as compared to previous years" but he refuted the complaints that its labor and consular sections were responsible for the deaths of its nationals. "Most related cases of suicide based on reports are personal and not labor related. It is not appropriate then for our nationals to say that we neglected or ignored them and that these are the reasons for committing such crime," added the counselor.

Labor Attachأ) of the Philippines Embassy in Kuwait stated that there are at least fifty three reported incidences of fatalities in 2009 and that five were suicide related cases. The Labor Attachأ) explained that there could be three possible reasons that are to be considered as to why suicide is committed. Topping the list is because of personal reasons that include marital or relationship issues, extreme poverty and financial concerns and finally those that are labor related such as
maltreatments and abuses.

The attachأ) added that the fatalities of their nationals in 2009 included sicknesses and complications, murder, accidents and suicides, some of which may not have been intentional but a means of escape from their employers. "The embassy and labor department''s main concerns are to protect its nationals and provide all possible assistance needed to ensure their safety and welfare. We have 160,000 Filipinos in Kuwait and that figure includes the unregistered ones. The ratio is such that we have at least 15,000 Filipinos for every one embassy and labor personnel but we manage to cope with the problems," added the attachأ).

He added "Fatality such as suicide has no connection with the embassy as these crimes were committed out of the victims'' desperation or extreme depression over other issues." Furthermore, he stated that "If any of such cases were reported, the embassy still requests for investigations to substantiate the cause and provide all possible assistance to repatriate the body."

On the other hand, an Indonesian attachأ) disclosed that there has been one reported case of suicide among the 18 cases of fatality for the year 2009 and that the reason is similarly a relationship issue. "Our embassy''s mission in Kuwait is focused on our nationals'' welfare and the embassy has never denied anyone of our services and support. We rely on newspaper reports daily and should we find any Asian (without identifying specific national) reported, our Assistant to the Nationals makes it a point to find out the identity of the victims. The number of fatalities this year has increased slightly from that of last year but mostly were of medical related reasons," added the attachأ).

Two other Asian embassies that deploy foreign workers to Kuwait opted not to comment on the issues.

0 Responses on "Al-Watan Daily: "Are embassy labor departments to blame for rising fatalities?""