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MP Duwaisan resigns over sectarian insult – Assembly passes maids laws, human rights body

Kuwaiti Shiite MP Adnan Abdulsamad (center) Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah (left), Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair (right) vote during the debate of a draft bill to establish shareholding companies for domestic workers’ recruitment .Faisal Al-Duwaisan, a lawmaker from Kuwait’s Shiite Muslim minority (inset) resigned after a Sunni MP insulted him during a heated exchange in parliament. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Kuwaiti Shiite MP Adnan Abdulsamad (center) Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah (left), Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair (right) vote during the debate of a draft bill to establish shareholding companies for domestic workers’ recruitment .Faisal Al-Duwaisan, a lawmaker from Kuwait’s Shiite Muslim minority (inset) resigned after a Sunni MP insulted him during a heated exchange in parliament. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Shiite MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan submitted his resignation yesterday in protest against what he called a sectarian insult by Sunni MP Hamdan Al-Azemi as the National Assembly has ordered an investigation.

Duwaisan said in the resignation letter that he was deeply hurt by Azemi’s insult to his religious sect which came during heated exchanges in the Assembly on Tuesday.

The lawmaker also said that Azemi insulted him and many Shiites when he told him to “rectify his sect”, - a remark that triggered exchanges in the Assembly on Tuesday. The incident also led to a quarrel between Azemi and Shiite MP Abdullah Al-Tameemi at the end of the session.

Duwaisan stressed that he will not withdraw his resignation before a public apology from Azemi or unless the National Assembly takes disciplinary actions against him. The National Assembly took up the issue yesterday and decided to ask the Assembly Bureau to investigate the matter and take whatever necessary actions. Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem said the Assembly will not let the incident pass by without action in a bid to safeguard national unity.

In the meantime, the National Assembly passed in the second and final votes three key reform and human rights law with little objection. MPs unanimously passed the first ever legislation to regulate the affairs of domestic helpers in the country after they have been governed through a contract under the Interior Ministry.

The new law grants maids, cooks, private drivers and alike a number of important rights including a 30-day annual leave, a weekly day off and a 12-hour working day with rest. The original law proposed a 10-hour working days with some MPs having even proposed eight hours, but during the debate MPs made it 12 hours provided the maids get enough rest in between. Under the law, employers must send monthly salary to the maid’s bank account in a bid to overcome problem associated with non-payment of salaries or delaying them for months.

The Assembly also approved a law calling for the establishment of public shareholding companies to recruit domestic helpers from abroad. Sixty percent of the company shares will be owned by the cooperative societies and 20 percent each for Kuwait Investment Authority, Public Institute for Social Security, Kuwait Airways and Public Authority for Minors.

Under the law, the companies will replace around 300 private offices which have been blamed for many problems for maids. Under the law, the companies must provide training to maids before bringing them into the country and are banned of charging them any fees.

The companies primarily aim at cutting the recruitment cost which has skyrocketed in recent years and provide sufficient protection to maids.

The Assembly also passed a law calling for the establishment of the national human rights commission to provide more guarantees for protecting human rights.

The commission will be under the supervision of the council of ministers but will be independent and its council members will enjoy immunity. The establishment of the commission comes as Kuwait prepares for a key human rights revision at the human rights council tomorrow.

MPs said the law will boost Kuwait’s rights image. The Assembly later decided to hold an additional session today in order to complete the approval of a number of bills.

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This article was published on 24/06/2015