Policing Kuwait’s charities

Muna Al-Fuzai

It seems the ministry of social affairs in Kuwait has decided to launch reforms to protect local NGOs, especially those working in the charity sector. The ministry announced that it will request expatriate workers of these NGOs to provide a certificate of clean criminal record and conduct, meaning they are not wanted by authorities for any crime or have been convicted. I believe this paper is important for work in any field, but when it comes to charity and collecting money from the public, it is essential and not a matter of doubt.

Because there has to be a way to ensure that the person has no connection with any prohibited groups or terrorist organizations, or activities that are contrary to the state’s laws and regulations. NGOs and the charity field have to be protected and secured. This announcement came after the arrest of some employees at a Kuwaiti charity in the case of the Brotherhood cell and it appears that the ministry is now serious in establishing new rules to recruit expatriates in these associations to ensure the preservation of the reputation of charity work of Kuwait. Well done!

I think the terror cell was a big and bad hit to Kuwait and to charity workers and fundraising, because there were a lot of questions about how these persons were able to sneak into Kuwait to work while they were convicted in their country by Egyptian courts to 15 years in prison. The cell managed to escape from the Egyptian security authorities, making Kuwait as their headquarters until they were all arrested. The detainees confessed to carrying out operations in various locations inside Egypt, and investigations are still ongoing to reveal who helped them. Such people can destroy the image of Kuwaiti charity internationally.
There is no distinction between citizens and expatriates when it comes to the request of a clean criminal record certificate to get a job. It is important to check the person’s data to ascertain whether the person has any criminal restrictions or is required by any security authority. The certificate is usually approved by the security administration and given upon request. The employer has the right to know about the behavior of a person and the police is the only official body authorized to issue such certificates of good conduct according to certain procedures.

I was personally surprised that this requirement had been delayed because it is important those working in the field of charity should not have suspicions or affiliations with prohibited and criminal groups. I hope no leniency is shown over this requirement in the future, because the biggest victim is the reputation of Kuwait and not those people.
In addition, the ministry of social affairs and labor requested from the Municipality prior approval of the ministry or coordination with it in the event an NGO submits a request to issue publications or advertisements. The ministry said it had found publication of magazines and advertisements by some charities without obtaining prior approval.
There was a decision by the Council of Ministers in 2004 on the rules and regulations governing public benefit associations, stipulating that the association may not conduct any activity, including the issuance of publications, fundraising or any other activities without obtaining the approval of official bodies.

I always warn against sending money to unknown individuals, but there are still those who do so despite warnings issued by the ministry of social affairs. I think there is a real effort to preserve the reputation of charitable work of Kuwait, because the damage will be great if we do not protect members of the community from terrorist groups that want to infiltrate into Kuwait and make charitable organizations their hidden nests.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
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