In its latest assault against migrant worker rights, Kuwait’s Interior Ministry has issued a directive to summarily deport expat men accused of sexual harassment. The move further obstructs workers' limited access to justice, providing accused male migrants with absolutely no means of redress.
If implemented, the directive will exacerbate the already severe power imbalance inherent to the sponsorship system; requiring virtually zero burden of proof, unscrupulous employers can threaten to lodge false charges against migrants to force concession to unfair working conditions.
According to Kuwait Times, the ministry failed to even define ‘harassment,’ providing Kuwaiti officials with far too much leeway to determine punishment, and far too much opportunity for bribery – misconduct which rampant amongst Kuwait’s police and security officers.
Kuwait Times notes that similar administrative deportations have increased over the last year, with thousands of expatriates deported for committing minor traffic violations. Authorities unabashedly use administrative deportations, in which migrants are not provided their due right to a court trial, to efficiently and arbitrarily reduce the expat population. A Kuwaiti MP has proposed another measure whereby migrants could be deported to ensure that no expat nationality exceeds 15% of the total citizen population.
Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labor share overlapping responsibility over expatriates. Civil society groups have accused both ministries of neglecting and even exacerbating migrant worker’s legal issues.