World News

Kuwait suspends new visas for Filipino workers in conflict with rights

KUWAIT (Reuters) – Kuwait has indefinitely suspended all new visas for Filipino nationals, the Interior Ministry confirmed this week, in an escalation of a row between the oil-rich Gulf state and Manila over the protection of workers and the rights of employers.

Filipino nationals make up about 6% of Kuwait’s 4.7 million people, according to government data. Kuwaitis represent 32%.

The visa suspension comes after the Philippines halted the first deployment of domestic workers to Kuwait in February following the discovery of the body of domestic worker Jullebee Ranara in the Kuwaiti desert in January.

A large number of Filipino citizens work abroad, with around 10% of its gross domestic product coming from remittances. Many work in oil-rich Gulf states like Kuwait as low-paid domestic workers, where visa systems tie a worker to an employer and leave migrant workers vulnerable to abuse – including employers confiscating their passports.

The Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that the Philippines violated a bilateral labor agreement. The two countries signed an agreement in 2018 following a previous row over worker protections following several deaths of domestic workers.

Listed violations include housing workers in shelters, tracing runaways without involving state institutions, communicating with Kuwaiti citizens without permission from authorities, and pressuring Kuwaiti employers to add clauses in employment contracts.

A week ago, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said that all measures taken by the Embassy and the government of the Philippines are aimed at “ensuring the safety and well-being of our own nationals”.

“Ensuring the protection of citizens of a country abroad is a well-established duty of consular offices under international law and conventions,” the statement said.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Conor Humphries)


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button