BEIRUT

Middle East

Kuwait curbs police powers to deport expats

A general view of the Kuwait Palace of Justice (court house) in Kuwait City June 16, 2013. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police will no longer be able to deport expatriates without interior ministry approval under new rules published Thursday after officers expelled thousands over the past year.

The Kuwait Society for Human Rights (KSHR) said the move was a "step in the right direction" to protect the rights of the emirate's 2.7 million expatriates, although it fell short of activists' calls for an end to all deportations not ordered by the courts.

In April, last year Kuwait made a range of traffic offences punishable by deportation, including driving without a licence, a document impossible for many expats to obtain.

Thousands of people have since been deported on the authority of a senior police officer, but in future all expulsion orders will have to be countersigned by the interior ministry undersecretary.

"The decision is a step in the right direction to improve the situation of immigrant workers who were harmed by oppressive decisions taken in violation of international rights treaties signed by Kuwait," KSHR chief Khaled al-Ajmi said.

Expatriates make up 69 percent of Kuwait's 3.9 million population, greatly outnumbering its 1.2 million citizens.

In April last year, Social Affairs and Labour Minister Thekra al-Rasheedi said the emirate planned to deport around 100,000 expatriates every year for the next decade to reduce the number of foreigners living in the Gulf state by one million.

She did not say what measures she would adopt to carry out the plan.

 

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