Give donation to Consortium

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Migrant rights group welcomes Kuwait government scrapping of 'sponsor-ship' system





Press Release



Receiving reports from its local chapter in Kuwait, an alliance of Filipino migrant rights group in the Middle East today said the serious intention of the Kuwait government to abolish the sponsor-ship system, locally know as ‘kafeel’ system, is a good indication that Kuwait is geared towards respecting the rights and well being of expatriate workers in the former Iraqi-occupied country.


“We are glad to hear that Kuwait Minister of Social Affairs and Labor recognizes the need to abolish the sponsor-ship system in Kuwait as it would give leeway and freedom to expatriate workers in terms of travel and the opportunity to change and look for a better job within Kuwait, ,” said John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator for Migrante Middle East.


Yesterday, a local newspaper in Kuwait (Al-Rai newspaper) quoted Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Mohammed Al-Afasi as saying that the "kafeel" system will be scrapped when a public authority for the recruitment of foreign workers is established in February.


"This will be our gift to foreign workers on the anniversary of Kuwait's liberation," from seven months of Iraqi occupation in 1991,” the minister said as he is quoted in Al-Rai newspaper.

The sponsorship system serves as the legal basis for one’s residency and employment in Kuwait and in other Gulf States.

Monterona said expatriates cannot enter, work, change jobs or leave the country until they have permission from their sponsor, usually a GCC citizen, company or ministry officials.

“The sponsorship system requires that an expatriate can work only for the sponsor and is entirely dependent on the contract in order to remain in the country,” Monterona explained.


Monterona added usually the laborer’s employer is the one who issues the visa invitation letter which requires the employee to work only for the original employer, who is also called the employee’s ‘sponsor’.


“In essence and in practice, sponsorship system is but an indentured servitude; a person under sponsorship simply called as bonded laborer who is under contract of the employer in exchange for an extension to the period of indenture, which could thereby continue indefinitely,” Monterona continued.


He further said that in the very nature of the prevailing system of sponsorship as practiced in the Gulf States, migrant workers as indentured servants were subject to abuses at the hands of their employers in the homes or fields in which they worked.


“That is why we often encounter cases where migrant workers have not been given a vacation despite they have already been completed their 2-year contract and other labor malpractices and abuses committed by the employers against the bonded laborer,” the OFW leader continued.


Sponsor-ship system emanates from the old social system of slavery whereby slaves are considered a private property.


Monterona said Migrante as an organization of OFWs recognizes the need to lead the formation of a broader lobby group along with other migrant workers in the Gulf States supportive to the call made by the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR) in Saudi Arabia and same entities in any Gulf States.


“This lobby group to be composed of migrant workers’ organizations in the Gulf States would be a special formation that is committed to lobby from host governments to ultimately decide to abolish the sponsorship system. This lobby group will likewise urge its respective governments to lobby the same to its counterpart host governments,” Monterona added.


Aside from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, calls for the abolishment of sponsorship system got widespread supports in Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates amongst expatriates and nationals of those states.


"We are urging other host governments in the Gulf States to follow the same step taken by the Kuwaiti government in abolishing the sponsorship system,” Monterona added.


Migrante's Monterona however noted that OFWs and their families are disappointed to their own government the Aquino administration which failed to craft a clear and genuine program for the protection of OFWs as cases of abuses, maltreatment and labor malpractices continue to swell up.


Monterona said that host governments in the Gulf States like Kuwait are in fact have shown their willingness to cooperate with labor-sending government like the Philippines in terms of protecting the rights and well being of Filipino migrants.


"Nearly 100 days in office, we have noticed the Aquino administration’s reluctance in pushing and concluding OFWs rights protection pact with host governments; the Aquino administration unwillingness is a manifestation of its lip service to the sector keeping the Philippine economy afloat," Monterona ended. # # #


No comments:

Post a Comment