Absconding…

Badrya Darwish

Al-Rai newspaper shocked all expats in Kuwait when it reported on April 1 that article 18 visa holders can now be deported immediately if their sponsors file absconding cases against them. An absconder would be subject to deportation without any recourse to appeal or file a countersuit at the labor courts. What astonished me was that Al-Rai made this report their lead story. For a minute I thought maybe it was an April Fool’s joke. But even if it was an April Fool’s prank, I find it gross and a bit insensitive to play with people’s feelings and situations.

As it is, expats in Kuwait have already been under intense pressure for the last few years, thanks to random statements and suggestions we hear every day by whoever it is – be it a lawmaker, government officials or even people who have nothing to do with law or government.  As if the expat is a low wall to jump. They have no power, nobody to help them and no defense. Everyone who wants to become a hero in Kuwait will suggest something against expats. All he has to do is come up with a suggestion to deport or fine or take away their driving licenses, etc, etc, etc.

The worst part of the story is that the government did not come up with any statement to deny or endorse the report, which I find bizarre. In my opinion, in a serious situation like this, a quick response should have come out from the ministry of social affairs or the ministry of interior denying or clarifying the rules.

Till now, it’s not clear what the full, actual rules are. I hope the ministry will take into consideration that this could create chaos. And some people could use it as a weapon against someone they don’t like, or someone they don’t want to pay financial indemnity to. Many people will abuse such a regulation. It will be easy for anybody to say ‘so and so is absconding, deport him’, regardless if it is true or partially true, or if there is wholly another intention. It could even create bad intentions in the minds of people in moments of anger, or lead to greed or blackmail. Because it is such a vague and easily abused idea.

I’m sure the people in charge in both ministries are wise enough and will not be fooled over such injustice. We, like the rest of Kuwait, are awaiting clarification.

Have a good day.

By Badrya Darwish
badrya_d@kuwaittimes.net

This article was published on 02/04/2017