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07KUWAIT1489 2007-10-09 05:33:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kuwait
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DE RUEHKU #1489/01 2820533
O 090533Z OCT 07
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 001489 




E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/08/2027


B. KUWAIT 1070

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Alan Misenheimer for reasons 1.4 (b) a
nd (d)

1. (C) Summary: Ambassador Mark Lagon, Director of the
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP),
visited Kuwait on September 26 to review Kuwait's progress on
its 60-day action plan and to engage high-level GOK officials
on combating TIP. The highlight of the trip was a tour of
the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor's newly-opened
shelter for domestic workers. Though some concerns remain,
the shelter is staffed to provide basic medical, social and
legal services, and several domestic workers had already been
referred to the shelter by their embassies. Ambassador Lagon
met separately with the Ministers of Interior, Justice, and
Social Affairs and Labor, and participated in a press
conference highlighting the opening of the shelter. GOK
representatives covered the main areas of G/TIP's
anti-trafficking action plan for Kuwait and made pledges to
further improve the effort to combat TIP in four main ways:
pass the recently-drafted anti-TIP law; provide evidence of
increased prosecutions and punishments of traffickers; train
law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges to identify
TIP victims and prosecute traffickers; and improve the still
rudimentary shelter. Officials also provided an update on
the government's domestic worker awareness-raising program.
End Summary.

Shelter Up and Running


2. (SBU) Ambassador Mark Lagon, Director of the Office to
Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP), visited
Kuwait on September 26 to review Kuwait's progress on G/TIP's
anti-trafficking action plan for Kuwait and to engage
high-level GOK officials on combating TIP. The highlight of
the trip was a tour of Kuwait's new shelter for domestic
workers, which the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor
(MOSAL) opened just a few days before Ambassador Lagon's
arrival (ref A). A small team of medical professionals,
social workers, psychological counselors, and security guards
were in place to offer assistance to the dozen or so domestic
workers staying at the facility. Jamal Al-Dossary,
Undersecretary for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Social
Affairs and Labor (MOSAL), led the tour and assured
Ambassador Lagon that domestic workers were free to come and
go as they pleased. He said the workers could stay as long
as they needed to, though the GOK would aim to process their
cases as quickly as possible. He presented a copy of the
shelter's by-laws, which laid out shelter-seekers' rights and
responsibilities. Though commending the GOK on its flurry of
activity to open the shelter in time for his visit,
Ambassador Lagon expressed his hope that the GOK continues to
work out unresolved issues in the shelter's management, such
as the protection of bona fide TIP victims from subsequent
criminal detention resulting from counter-suits filed by
their sponsors. He also underscored the need to widely
publicize the shelter, train police officers on referring
victims to the facility, and refrain from pushing victims to
leave the country quickly. GOK officials allowed the USG
delegation to speak with several of the domestic workers
privately. The workers described physical abuse and lack of
payment at the hands of their employers, and expressed their
wish to return to their home countries rather than pursue
legal proceedings against their employers.

3. (SBU) MOSAL Minister Shaykh Sabah Al-Khalid Al Sabah
said that the shelter would replace shelters run by source
country embassies and would solve many of the problems
related to domestic workers and trafficking, including victim
identification. He said that he had a 2 million dollar check
in his pocket for this year's shelter budget, and that the
GOK would expand the shelter to a capacity of 700 within
several months providing a full range of social, medical, and
legal services for domestic workers. He also noted that
MOSAL had consulted with the International Labor Organization
(ILO) to ensure compliance with international norms and that
MOSAL was working in conjunction with several Kuwaiti NGOs.

4. (SBU) The press covered Ambassador Lagon's visit to the
shelter extensively. At least a dozen photographers captured
his arrival at the shelter. After the tour, Ambassador Lagon
and Al-Dossary gave a press conference where approximately 25
journalists from Kuwaiti print and television outlets asked
questions about the Ambassador's view of the shelter and what
other steps Kuwait would need to take in order to address its
trafficking problem. The major Kuwaitis gave the visit
prominent coverage. In subsequent days a number of

KUWAIT 00001489 002 OF 003

columnists have written about the shelter, mostly in positive
terms. Kuwaiti journalists have resisted the urge to write
sensationalist articles accusing the U.S. of heavy-handed
meddling in internal Kuwaiti affairs.

Anti-TIP Law Ready


5. (C) Dr. Abdullah Al-Ma'touq, Minister of Justice and
Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, pointed out to
Ambassador Lagon that the Justice Ministry has sent a draft
anti-TIP law to the Cabinet (ref B). Once it gets cabinet
approval, it can be sent to Parliament for a vote. The
Minister did not have a prediction as to how long
parliamentary approval might take. Al-Ma'touq noted that
recent GCC Justice Minister summits had addressed the
trafficking issue, which has contributed to progress on
anti-TIP legislation. He noted that trafficking would be an
important topic of discussion at the October 23 summit in
Saudi Arabia.

6. (SBU) MOSAL Minister Shaykh Sabah Al-Khalid also noted
that a new labor law was almost ready to be presented to
parliament. He did not consider it likely that domestic
workers would be covered in the new law, pointing out that
the standardized domestic laborer contract laid out workers'
rights. However, he did say the GOK was seriously looking
into the issue of alternatives to the sponsorship system.
(Note: The ILO undertook a study of the sponsorship system in
February and presented its plan to the GOK. The ILO
representative met with Post as part of the study and
provided a copy of the study in March. End Note.)

GOK Will Provide More Evidence of Prosecution Efforts



7. (SBU) Assistant Public Prosecutor Mohammad Al-Zo'by, in
his role as Chairman of the Committee to Study International
Human Rights Reports, provided updated statistics on various
TIP-related criminal prosecutions. As with previous
statistics, they provided inconclusive evidence as to whether
traffickers are being punished. However, Al-Zo'by said his
office planned to provide more detailed information on
criminal prosecutions so that it would be easier to discern
in the 2008 report whether Kuwait is making sufficient
efforts to prosecute traffickers.

Training Law Enforcement Officials


8. (SBU) Ambassador Lagon stressed in all of his meetings
the importance of training law enforcement officials in
victim identification and in the investigation of TIP crimes.
Justice Minister Al-Ma'touq welcomed the idea, noting that
he had increased the Ministry's training budget ten-fold, and
that he had instituted mandatory training for judges,
including some training abroad. Interior Minister Shaykh
Jaber Al-Mubarak Al Sabah called training to differentiate
victims from criminals an "idea worth considering." Al-Zo'by
also expressed his enthusiasm for more training, and said the
GOK was willing to send appropriate officials to regional or
international training.

Awareness Raising


9. (C) Dr. Adel Al-Falah, the Ministry of Awqaf
Undersecretary, briefed Ambassador Lagon on Barirah, Kuwait's
domestic worker awareness program. He said that the program
was based on field studies designed to discover the source of
problems related to domestic workers, and that the project
would undertake a media campaign and reach out to schools to
encourage the humane treatment of domestic workers. Al-Falah
also noted that the GOK may create a new government
institution to attend to the affairs of domestic workers.
(Note: the MOI already has a small department that deals with
domestic workers. Al-Falah suggested something bigger. This
is the first time Post has heard of such a plan. End Note.)
Barirah project director Saad Al-Hajji told PolOff
separately that the GOK had made progress on a
training/orientation center for domestic workers. According
to Al-Hajji, all domestic workers arriving in Kuwait would
have to attend courses to learn about Kuwaiti customs and
about their rights and responsibilities under Kuwaiti law.

10. (U) Ambassador Lagon has cleared this message.

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For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit: s

KUWAIT 00001489 003 OF 003

Visit Kuwait's Classified Website:
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