Human Rights Watch 2010 World Report Now Available

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You may access the pdf version of the entire report, which gives a summary of the status of human rights in each country, by clicking here. Regarding Kuwait in particular, here are some highlights of the findings:

-Kuwait has made improvements in women's political rights, particularly with the election of four women in Parliament, although women still face significant discrimination in all aspects of daily life. These legal forms of discrimination include: the right to pass on nationality to children, access to low-interest housing loans, and divorce settlements. Perpetrators who commit violence against women are rarely arrested.

-Kuwait hosts several stateless people, known as Bidoun, who amount to around 120,000 of the population in Kuwait. A 2007 draft law would grant the Bidun civil rights, but not nationality, although this has not yet passed. Children of Bidoun are also exempt from being able to have any eligibility for nationality. The Bidoun face several travel restrictions, legal loopholes and civil rights discrimination limiting their access to services and employment.

-Kuwait freedom of expression in the media is often thwarted by fines and bans for slandering the government. In one case in October 2009, two Kuwaiti members of parliament were fined for criticizing the Interior Ministry's treatment of the Bidoun.

-Kuwait continues to discriminate against the gay, lesbian and transgender community. Homosexual conduct is a criminal act in Kuwait under Article 193 of Kuwait's penal code. Men who engage in consensual sexual intercourse between men over age 21 are sentenced for up to seven years imprisonment. If the conduct involves persons under the age of 21, the sentence is increased to 10 years. Transgender people are often sent to prison or fined for "imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex." They are also subject to harassment.

-About 80% of the country is comprised of expatriots, many of whom face high residency fees leading to unpayable debt, and whose rights are not adequately covered by the existing labor law. Due to the abuse of several domestic workers and unskilled labor, several embassies have placed bans on the entrance of their citizens to Kuwait for employment. The source of the problem lies in the current sponsorship system (kafala), which trap workers in averse situations and keeps abusive sponsors out of the gamma of law enforcement.

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