Oct 202014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2004/01/04KUWAIT350.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
04KUWAIT350
2004-01-31 12:57
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuwait

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L KUWAIT 000350

SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/TIP, NEA/REA, DRL/HDP, NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2014
TAGS: PHUM ELAB PGOV SOCI PREL KU ID RP
SUBJECT: (C) TIP: KUWAITI EFFORT TO HELP REPATRIATE DOMESTICS

Classified By: CDA FRANK URBANCIC; REASON: 1.4 (B, D)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Kuwaiti Ambassador to Indonesia is
working with the Kuwait Red Crescent Society and the
Indonesian Embassy to expedite repatriation of domestic
servants stranded in Kuwait, and to ensure payment of wages
owed to them. He hopes to be able to extend this initiative
to Filipinas. In many cases, the only reason for
repatriation is end of contract, but most claim unpaid wages
for periods ranging from one to 38 months. A substantial
number claim to have been beaten by their employers. END
SUMMARY.

¶2. (SBU) Charge received a phone call January 28 from
Mohammed al-Khalaf, Kuwait’s Ambassador to Indonesia, who is
currently in Kuwait. Khalaf said he was taking initiative to
work with the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) to try to
help stranded domestic servants, and invited the Embassy to
learn more about this initiative. Polchief therefore met
with Khalaf and KRCS Chairman Barges al-Barges on January 29.
Barges stressed that KRCS is not a governmental entity, but
is devoted to helping those in need, regardless of
nationality or religion. During Ramadhan, KRCS had provided
meals to some 250 Indonesian and 150 Filipina domestic
servants who had sought shelter in their respective embassies
due to problems with their employers.

¶3. (C) During the January 29 meeting, Khalaf and Barges
examined a printout, evidently produced by the Indonesian
Embassy, listing 216 Indonesian domestics who wished to
return home. For 81 of them, no complaint was listed other
than “end of contract.” Virtually all the others claimed
their employers owed them back wages, for periods ranging
from one month to 38 months. Several also claimed their
employers had beaten them; only one, as far as Polchief could
tell, claimed attempted sexual assault. A quick guesstimate
by KRCS indicated that at an average monthly wage equivalent
to about USD100, the claimed back wages would total
USD135,000 (i.e. average ten months per person). This was
far more than they had imagined, and more than the KRCS
budget could absorb, so they planned to seek payment by the
employers. (COMMENT: the only way to make that square with
prompt repatriation would be for the women to fly home first,
and be paid later — something they may be very reluctant to
do. END COMMENT.)

¶4. (C) Arrangements were in process with the Kuwaiti Air
Force to repatriate some 170 of these domestics during the
second week of February (shortly after Eid al-Adha), at about
70 passengers per flight. Khalaf hoped that domestics of
other nationalities, notably Filipinas, would also be able to
benefit from this service.

¶5. (C) Khalaf (protect) offered his personal opinion as to
steps needed to gain control of the problem of
exploited/abused domestics, which he said was a constant
drain on his time and on Kuwait’s bilateral relationship with
Indonesia:

– tighten control over the recruiting agencies, both in
Kuwait and source countries;

– promote awareness in the source countries, so that would-be
domestics know their rights;

– shift responsibility for domestics from the Ministry of
Interior to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (because
Interior has “a police mentality, not a humanitarian
mentality”).

¶6. (C) COMMENT: That a Kuwaiti ambassador has felt the need
to take such an initiative is both encouraging (a sign of
growing awareness and responsiveness) and disappointing
(reflecting the absence of a concerted GOK response). That
Amb. Khalaf turned to the US Embassy indicates that our
publicized concern about trafficking in persons is
increasingly known and understood in

   

 

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