BEIRUT

Middle East

Kuwait must end abusing stateless: rights groups

KUWAIT CITY: Three global human rights organizations Thursday urged the ruler of the Gulf state of Kuwait to end alleged abusing of more than 100,000 stateless people, locally known as bidoon.

In an unprecedented move, Refugees International, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International jointly wrote a letter to Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, highlighting the plight of bidoons and urging a solution.

"The bidoons are not treated equally before the courts and continue to be denied protection conveyed through nationality and residency, and have been subjected to repeated abuse and discrimination," the letter said.

Since the start of protests in early 2011, the government’s treatment of bidoons has "deteriorated to such an extent that it has eroded Kuwait’s ability to fulfill its international human rights commitments," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

The letter said that police has used excessive force against peaceful bidoon protesters who were demanding rights and citizenship, and detained dozens who have claimed abuse during detention.

Close to 200 stateless men are facing trial for illegal assembly, resisting and assaulting police.

The 11 benefits for bidoons that were promised by the government in April 2011 have not been implemented, leaving many of them without access to employment, health care, education, and other vital public services, as well as documents such as birth certificates, the letter said.

"Particularly egregious is the government’s exclusion of bidoons' children from primary and secondary education, a problem that is exacerbated by a recent government ban on charitable contributions, including tuition, to bidoon individuals and organizations," it added.

The three groups urged the emir of Kuwait to immediately grant citizenship to 34,000 of them already acknowledged by the government.

They also called for allowing bidoons to challenge decisions in court, guarantee their right to peaceful assembly, eliminate discriminatory regulations and revoke rules that bar donations to bidoons.

"All bidoons born in Kuwait should be recognized as citizens, and those who have resided in the country for a reasonable amount of time should be eligible to apply for citizenship and acquire citizenship," they said.

Kuwait says only 34,000 out of the 105,000 bidoon present in the oil-rich Gulf state are eligible for citizenship, accusing the remaining 71,000 of concealing their true nationalities.

 

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