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First-read nod for human rights body
June 18, 2015, 8:48 am

The National Assembly approved during a supplementary session Wednesday a draft law to form the national commission for human rights. Twenty nine out of 39 MPs voted in favor for the law, in its first debate, while only seven refrained from voting. A second debate on the law is to take place next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The law’s explanatory memo explained that the national commission for human rights is an official national independent body that is not affiliated with any state or administrative bureau.

The preamble of the draft law, which consists of 14 articles, included various numbers of constitutional, legal, and international references in which the law terms and provisions were based upon, including the UN General Assembly’s resolution 34/148 on the status and functioning of national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights, known as the Paris Principles.

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Yaqoub Al-Sanea affirmed the government reservation on a number of materials and items mentioned in the draft law, adding that the parliamentary committee completed some items in the law on granting immunity to members of the commission, in addition to the commission’s judicial seizure rights and capacities. The commission’s duty is to receive and send reports, in addition to a number of specialties mentioned in the sixth article of the draft law, Al-Sanea said, noting that judicial seizure is one of the executive authority capacities, which is conflicting to international charters.

The judicial seizure capacity mentioned in the draft law is incompatible with the commission’s independency and it is unallowable entry, the minister said, noting that the capacity of judicial seizure is limited only to gathering evidences and crimes investigation.

The proposed establishment of a company for the recruitment of domestic workers is important, because the country needs an agency that supervises the process of hiring these workers, says MP Yousef Al- Zalzalah.

The lawmaker made the statement Wednesday when the Parliament approved the proposal in its first reading. He pointed out some citizens even took loans just to hire domestic workers due to the exorbitant fees. MP Khalaf Dumaither said the proposed company does not belong to MP Kamel Al- Awadhi as claimed by MP Sadoum Hammad. He stressed the company will protect more than one million citizens and residents from the owners of around 200 to 300 domestic labor offices that charge very high fees.

On the other hand, MP Salah Ashour emphasized the need to specify the minister in charge of recruiting domestic workers in order to hold him responsible for any mistake. He asserted the recruitment of domestic workers is part of the role of the government, so he wondered why the government should approve the proposal. He asked how the company will solve the problems of domestic workers, raising doubt on claims that approval of the proposal entails lower recruitment fees.

He argued it is uncertain if the fees for hiring domestic workers will go down a year after the establishment of the company; considering there are around 670,000 domestic workers in Kuwait.

Meanwhile, Article One of the bill stipulates establishment of a closed stock company for the recruitment of domestic workers. The company’s shares shall be divided as follows: 10 percent for Kuwait Investment Authority, 10 percent for Public Institution for Social Security, 60 percent for Cooperative Societies Union, 10 percent for Public Authority for Minors’ Affairs and 10 percent for Kuwait Airways Corporation.

It also allows the company’s board of directors to amend the percentage of shares in case any other institution wishes to participate.

Article Two states the company must be headquartered in Kuwait and it can open one or many branches Article Five stipulates the following functions of the company:

â–  Train workers in special centers before they enter Kuwait.

â–  Ensure safety of the recruited workers and they must be free from diseases before entering the country.

â–  Use advanced technology to maintain a database for the personal data of recruited workers and other pertinent information. Article Seven states that the recruitment of domestic workers, their rights and obligations must be subject to the laws of the State; as well as the decisions of the Interior Ministry which handles everything related to the recruitment of domestic workers.

Also, the Parliament approved the report of the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee on the Domestic Workers Bill; in addition to the family care and National Human Rights Commission draft bills in their first reading annual, while the development plan for fiscal 2016/2017 was approved in its first and second readings.

MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah said the current Parliament is credited for drafting the Family Care Bill because it is aimed at protecting the children who lost their parents, those who have no relatives and those who do not know their lineage. He then called on the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor to give jobs to adults who live in social over by coups instituted political systems that were so rigid and inflexible, and banned all political activities. Economic activities became, almost, totally under the ownership or control of the state.

Eventually the private sector and business people were unable to function and had to take their capital, if they were able to tap the capital, out of the countries, which in many situations was confiscated with all other assets.

The business climate became repulsive. In such political economy it would be difficult to improve economic activities or enhance innovation or encourage new businesses. Of course the opportunities of partnering with foreign investors to develop business or new activities were barred by the political authorities.

Now, we can assume that the latest upheavals in the last four years brought major changes in the political set-ups in Arab countries. However, some of the changes were not very encouraging. Violent activities by terrorist groups have become rampant in several Arab countries which is displacing large segments of the population, and destroying infrastructures, schools, hospitals, other establishments and houses.

People in many parts of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are in desperate need for basic helps. How can people in such dire situations be able to think of a bright future and a better political environment? Now, what is outmoded or out of date in our Arab context? It is the way we try to resolve our differences and upgrade the quality of the political process. The lack of tolerance and the imposition of old values to govern the social and political arenas.

Many countries in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and South East Asia were able to resolve their development difficulties through appropriate democratic changes. Many of these countries became successful economically. Considering the political plight of the Arab world one must wonder whether we will be able to overcome our out of date ideas and norms and engage with the fast changes that are taking place in the rest of world?

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