Friday, November 02, 2018

Blame the slave, not the master: Human Trafficking

The system in Kuwait is this:   Anyone working in Kuwait must be sponsored by a company (or individuals in the case of domestic helpers) to obtain a residency visa.  This system has led to human trafficking as some sponsors use their position to sell visas to those wanting to live/work in Kuwait (usually unskilled workers from poor countries).  When they arrive, there are no jobs for these people (and it would be very difficult to transfer their visa to another company even if they could find work).  So they end up as beggars or may even commit crimes just to live.  The "Kafala" (or sponsorship) system has been in place for many decades.  Usually, when there are stories like this in the media, it means that someone/somewhere has pointed a finger at human trafficking and some form of arrests are made.

Instead of dealing heavily with visa-trader sponsors, they are slapped on the wrist and are out on bail.  Meanwhile people from poor countries who bought the visas (albeit illegally) are being arrested for deportation (according to the article below).

Never-ending cycle:  2,900 individuals from poor countries will leave (after having paid enormous amounts of money - to traffickers - to try to make a better life for themselves and their families) and another several thousand will be brought in - likely by the same traffickers.  How can there be any end to this system if the people who are DOING the trafficking aren't dealt with seriously?  Where is the humanity in this?

And a Syrian "mastermind"?   Here is the reality:  You must be a Kuwaiti to own 51% majority in a company.  You must be a Kuwaiti to sponsor employees.  Everyone knows this.  It is the law.

Arrest ordered of 2,900 Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Egyptian expats in Kuwait
Arab Times - November 1, 2018
3 fictitious firms caught selling visas between KD 1,500 and KD 3,000 per visa

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 1: In one of the most serious cases in Kuwait’s history over the past few years, related to trafficking in persons, security sources said the Ministry of the Interior has issued orders to arrest about 2,900 expatriates of different nationalities who were brought into the country by three fictitious companies to work on government contracts and abandoned them with no jobs, reports Al-Anba daily.

The daily added, over the past few days, the ministry has arrested about 90 persons who admitted to paying huge sums of money to these illusory companies to get the job to work in Kuwait.
The sources revealed that the prosecutor of Crimes of Human Trafficking summoned the owners of the three companies and released them on bail.

However, an unidentified Syrian who is believed to be the mastermind of the operation is behind bars. The daily quoting sources said it is he who enabled the three delusional companies to bring this huge number of workers and leave them without work.

With regard the details of the case, knowledgeable security sources said this was discovered when the Directorate General of Residence Affairs carried out a surprise inspection campaign in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and arrested a number of workers, whose residence permit was stamped in the name of companies which have government contracts. When they were asked why they did not report to work, they admitted that they have no jobs and that they were brought into the country on what they called ‘free visa’ and that they had paid huge sums of money get into the country.

The sources added when the Directorate General of Residence Affairs checked the files of these companies, it was discovered that the headquarters of the companies were in the Capital, Farwaniya and Ahmadi governorates and that these companies were dormant.

Another surprise was when the department discovered that the number of expatriates hired by the three companies was more than 3,000 and they were brought into the country to work on government jobs.

The sources added that the General Directorate of Residence Affairs, after informing the senior officials in the Ministry of Interior referred the case file to the Human Trafficking Prosecution.
The sources pointed out that the Human Trafficking Office has resumed hearing into the case and is recording the testimonies of the victims.

Some of them admitted to paying between KD 1,500 and KD 3,000 per visa. The sources indicated most of the expatriates are from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt. The Pakistanis are said to have paid nearly KD 3,000 each person.

Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution has said everyone who is linked with the issue will be summoned for interrogation.