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Concerns over retroactive deportation of absconders

KUWAIT: Responding to a report in Al-Rai daily on retroactively deporting expats reported as absconding, acting manpower authority director Abdullah Al-Motoutah said neither laws nor administrative decisions are imposed retroactively, and if a worker has already procured a sponsor’s approval to transfer his visa or settle the dispute, the interior ministry would be contacted to cancel the absconding report. Motoutah denied taking any exceptional measures or retroactively applying any laws against workers who have legalized their stay, paid the fees and fines and have residency visas stamped on their passports.

He said absconding reports have to be filed by sponsors at the labor relations unit after filling up the needed forms and providing required documents as per article 42 of the labor law 6/2016. Motoutah added that according to the regulations currently in effect, an employer is given a grace period of 90 days after filing the report to check with the interior ministry, and is given 15 more days to receive the formal report and possibly reach an amicable settlement with the worker. “The absconding report is transferred after 90 days and after the concerned labor department prepares a full inspection report stating that the worker is not actually working,” he explained.

Motoutah said that if the report had been filed at the authority and the interior ministry before Jan 4, 2016 and a settlement had been reached, the absconding reports committee and MoI would have to be contacted to rescind the report according to regulations. “As for reports made after January 4, 2016, they can only be settled and annulled in two cases – by partners in company foundation contracts and Kuwaitis’ children, husbands and wives,” he explained.

Moreover, Motoutah noted that reports would be annulled for workers who filed grievances at the concerned labor department before Jan 4, 2016 and got an approval to transfer to other sponsors, while grievances filed after that date would be rejected, unless a worker has a final court order in this regard. In addition, Motoutah said MoI asks workers to provide certain documents on filing grievances (security clearance and fingerprint report) to check whether absconding reports had been filed against them and look into the complaint if the reports, if any, had been filed before Jan 4, 2016.

MoI’s assistant undersecretary for citizenship and passports Maj Gen Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah stressed that his office is open for humanitarian cases and to resolve problems to avoid damaging Kuwait’s human rights record. But he warned that even humane considerations would be subject to laws. Sheikh Mazen said he receives several cases at his office and each case is separately reviewed in the presence of both the concerned sponsor and worker.

“The interior ministry is keen on friendly solutions prior to taking any official measure that would lead to deportation,” he added, underlining that thorough investigations and legal consultations are usually made to verify absconding reports. Notably, a number of lawyers have rejected the decision and called for cracking down on visa traffickers instead of instigating the entire society against expats.

By Meshaal Al-Enezi

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