Talks held last week between relevant authorities in Kuwait and a delegation comprising representatives from Philippines Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Migrant Workers, failed to find an amicable solution to tackling the issues surrounding Filipino domestic helpers in Kuwait.

Following the talks, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Acting Minister of Defense, Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled, reaffirmed Kuwait’s commitment to safeguarding its sovereignty and protecting the dignity of its people. He announced Kuwait’s intention to continue the suspension of all types of visas for Filipino workers.

The decision to halt visa issuance for Filipino workers was prompted by what Kuwait perceives as inappropriate practices by the Philippine embassy in the country, as well as crimes committed by members of the Filipino community residing in Kuwait. Al-Khaled stressed that Kuwait remains dedicated to upholding the international agreements between the two nations, while continuing to renew residence permits for those workers who possess valid permits and wish to continue working in Kuwait.

Al-Khaled has directed the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) to conclude labor agreements with various other labor-exporting countries for the supply of trained workers to the Kuwaiti market. In a statement posted on its website, PAM highlighted the outcome of bilateral negotiations between Kuwaiti and Filipino representatives. The statement, which noted that the meeting was prompted by the Philippine government’s request to discuss the recent visa suspension, detailed several violations attributed to the Philippine embassy including:

  • Instructing domestic labor recruitment offices to withdraw domestic workers from citizens’ homes under false pretenses.
  • Pressuring recruitment offices to accommodate workers in private housing in violation of Kuwaiti laws, and assuming the responsibilities of state institutions in apprehending runaway domestic workers.
  • Exerting pressure on employers during contract renewals and contacting citizens and recruitment offices directly without involving the relevant Kuwaiti authorities.
  • Inappropriate treatment of citizens when they visit the embassy at its request.
  • Labor recruitment offices at the embassy fail to document contracts without any legal justification.
  • Placing a ban on employers despite knowing that there are pending complaints in relevant government agencies, which violates Kuwait’s laws.
  • Accommodating workers in a private residence or shelter center affiliated with it, even if some of these workers are in violation of the residency law or have notices of absence issued against them.

The statement added that in response to these violations, the Kuwaiti side has set forth a series of conditions during the negotiations. These conditions include:

  • The Philippine Embassy must acknowledge and admit to committing violations and infringing on the laws, decisions, and regulations of Kuwait, which goes against recognized diplomatic norms.
  • The Embassy is required to submit an official undertaking, ensuring that such acts will not be repeated in the future.
  • The Embassy must inform its government about this acknowledgment and pledge, with the commitment not to engage in similar actions in the future. This information should be published in official media channels.
  • The relevant authorities within Kuwait will issue an official statement, warning against any violations of the applicable laws, decisions, and regulations to preserve Kuwait’s sovereignty and legal framework.

If the Philippine side agrees to these conditions, the Ministry of the Interior will assess the situation and monitor the Embassy’s adherence to security controls and conditions set by the ministry for a minimum period of three months. Following this evaluation, the Ministry will determine the appropriate course of action.

However, the Philippine side, after a 72-hour deliberation period, refused to comply with the conditions set by Kuwait, which aimed to prevent future violations. Consequently, Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior has stood by its decision to suspend all types of visas for the Filipino community until further notice. Nonetheless, the renewal of residence permits for Filipino workers with valid documents, who wish to continue working in Kuwait, will proceed according to the existing laws and regulations.

Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has directed the Public Authority for Manpower to engage in concluding labor agreements with various labor-exporting countries. The aim is to ensure a robust supply of trained workers to meet the demands of the Kuwaiti market.

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