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Major steps to punish visa traffickers
August 18, 2013, 10:50 pm
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The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor reached an agreement with the Interior Ministry to launch joint efforts within a couple of weeks to start addressing visa-trafficking and pursue individuals involved in the illegal trade, a local daily reported yesterday quoting a source with knowledge of the case. Speaking to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity, the source explained that the new operation would see the MSAL refer files of violating companies and employers to the Interior Ministry directly, before the latter refers them to the Public Prosecution.

The plan also calls for ‘speedy’ procedures to punish violators and suspend their hiring capabilities, the source added. Visa-trafficking refers to practices in which companies or individuals exploit loopholes in the sponsorship system in order to release work permits on fake companies or non-existent job openings, then sell them to unskilled labor forces looking for a chance to work in the oilrich Gulf region.
 
Once they reach Kuwait, workers in most cases end up with no physical jobs, and resort to accepting hard labor and often live without valid visas. There are nearly 90,000 people living illegally in Kuwait according to official figures. Crackdowns on illegal residents resulted in thousands of arrests and deportations over the past few months, but no reports came about investigations taken to effectively pursue traffickers. Moreover, reports suggested that deportations allowed traffickers under certain circumstances to bring even more workers illegally through freed job openings.
 
The new procedures reported by several dailies yesterday seem to be action taken in response to statements of MP Riyadh Al-Adasani who mentioned visa-trafficking as one of many topics included in a grilling motion he had previously filed and hinted at reviving them since no action has been taken. Other topics include alleged failure to activate laws placed to encourage Kuwaiti manpower to seek employment in the private sector and alleged irregularities in the co-operative societies’ sector.
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