Local dailies recently published reports that security authorities in Kuwait deported around 17,000 expats in 2018 compared to 29,000 in 2017, a decline of about 45 percent. They pointed out that the fall is due to the ministry’s instructions not to deport any expatriate arbitrarily or illegally.
Legally, deportation is of two types – judicial, by court verdicts in criminal cases; and administrative, by the interior ministry. In 2016, MoI deported 31,000 expats after a series of security campaigns against violators. Unlike in the past, deportation is quick, as anyone sent to the deportation prison does not remain there for more than a week while waiting for an air ticket and finalizing paperwork. The reasons for deportation are violation of the residency laws and involvement in criminal cases, especially violation of traffic rules. Some people are stuck for a month or two because of financial issues or waiting for their trial.
Kuwait has been and remains a home for many expatriates, who live here and have contributed to the building of its economy. They are considered an integral part of the state’s social fabric. Undoubtedly, deportation causes psychological and social damage to any person, especially with their inability to return to Kuwait and work again. Deportation leaves expatriates feeling insecure and anxious.
Criminals do not abide by the laws of any country where they commit crimes. In Kuwait, expat criminals who are caught are deported after serving their sentences. This is judicial deportation and I think it is fair because its overseen by the courts
But I think it is necessary to have legislative and humanitarian protection for expatriates who are exposed to administrative deportation because of the possibility of facing problems in their native country.
Kuwaiti embassies abroad should have a memo about the laws of Kuwait which every expat must read and sign before coming to the country.
I think some cases are not worthy of deportation, and appropriate penalties can be imposed for offenses that might be committed. For example, if an expat is a government employee who has committed a minor offense or has not complied with regulations to dispense his services, the punishment should not reach administrative deportation, especially for those with families. When these people are deported, they lose their jobs, regardless of whether the deportation was due to a crime or a fight they were involved in.
In 2017, the director of the Kuwait Human Rights Society said administrative deportation harms Kuwait’s reputation in front of international human rights organizations, calling for urgent legislative amendments. He stressed in a press statement that administrative deportation in its current form represents a danger to the human rights situation and the image of the country, as it is one of the most important issues that is raised at international meetings. Expats should have the right to know the reasons for being deported and should be able to defend themselves.
It is not good to prolong the waiting period of deportation from the country, because this period is bad for all parties. I see that deportation is not a problem, but its reasons can be. The law gives the interior ministry the right to deport an expat if public interest requires it, or if the presence of the person threatens public order. I call on expatriates to maintain legal residence and avoid quarrels, because this could compromise their stay here.
By Muna Al-Fuzai