The US State Department’s annual report on human rights in Kuwait for 2021 sheds light on corruption cases related to government officials who took advantage of their positions and subsequently escaped punishment despite all evidence of corruption.

The report cited lack of government transparency, stressing that despite the existence of a law that punishes corruption, the government did not implement it effectively, revealing numerous reports of government corruption during the year, in which observers believe that officials were involved in corrupt practices, reports a local Arabic daily.

The sources say it is widely believed that the Anti-Corruption Authority ‘Nazaha’ lacks the legal authority to implement strict anti-corruption measures, since it cannot conduct secret surveillance, carry out search warrants, arrest suspects, or enforce compliance with investigation demands.

The report talked about the prevalence of bribery, as it was based on reports that individuals had to pay intermediaries to receive routine government services, and there were several reports of corruption in the procurement and bidding processes of lucrative government contracts.

The report also cited the Kuwait Economic Society, and what it mentioned last August, that the state loses about 1.2 billion dinars annually due to corruption, as many serious corruption cases occurred, including government corruption, while Nazaha continued to refer government officials involved in corrupt practices to the Public Prosecution Office, including officers from the Ministry of Interior, charged with forging official documents.

The report referred to important issues related to human rights violations, pointing out that the government took important steps in some cases to prosecute and punish officials who committed these violations, whether in the security services, or anywhere else in the government, where 591 complaints were registered against the Interior Ministry employees of these 413 were looked into, 71 resulted in disciplinary proceedings and 96 were referred to courts, but impunity is a problem in corruption cases.

He also referred to what he called ‘stateless people’ (bedoun) who are residing illegally in the country, and based on the estimates of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there were 92,000 people of this category in the country in 2020.

Regarding Internet freedom, the report stated that the Communications and Information Technology Commission blocked 82 websites last year, and lifted the ban on 13 others.

Om women in Kuwait assuming judicial positions, the report stated that the Ministry of Justice announced seven female judges had assumed leadership roles in supervising misdemeanor court departments.

In November, the government appointed 14 new female prosecutors in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, increasing the total number of public prosecutors to 64.

The report dealt with cases of domestic violence, and stated that courts issued judgments in 198 cases of assault, and some of the accused were acquitted, while others were sentenced to prison terms from 5 to 20 years.

It stated that NGOs regularly reported cases of domestic violence against women, while courts issued sentences in 991 domestic violence cases, including 662 cases of violence against women, some of the defendants were acquitted, while others were sentenced to imprisonment from six months to 20 years, and some were sentenced to death.

Regarding child abuse, the report touched on the efforts of the Child Protection Office of the Ministry of Health to monitor and follow up cases of child abuse. Cases are roughly equal between boys and girls.

The report criticized Kuwait’s policy towards people living with HIV, noting that since 2016, the authorities have deported thousands of foreign residents living with HIV, and during the year local media reported that about 200 foreign residents are deported annually because of their HIV diagnosis.

Regarding migrant workers, the report stated that the Ministry of Interior arrested 95 employers for issuing residence permits in exchange for money, and deported 4,896 residents whose legal status had been forfeited.

The report stated that several media reports highlighted the problem of residence permits or “visas”, where companies and recruitment agencies collude to “sell visas” to potential workers, and the jobs and companies associated with these visas often do not exist, and workers are vulnerable to exploitation on the black market, where they are forced to earn a morsel living and paying for the fake “visa”; arrests of visa traffickers and illegal labor gangs occur almost weekly.

Source: Al Rai



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