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TITLE:  KUWAIT HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                         KUWAIT


Kuwait's rulers (Amirs), drawn from the Al-Sabah family, have 
governed the country in consultation with prominent commercial 
families and other community leaders for over 200 years.  The 
1962 Constitution provides for an elected National Assembly  
and details the powers of the Government and the rights of 
citizens.  Although the Constitution permits the Amir to 
suspend its articles only during a period of martial law, the 
Amir has twice (from 1976 to 1981 and from 1986 to 1992) 
suspended constitutional provisions by decree and ruled 
extraconstitutionally.  The October 1992 Assembly elections and 
the subsequent convening of the Assembly marked a return to 
parliamentary life.  During 1993 the Assembly assumed an active 
role, enacting legislation, including the national budget.  
(See Section 3 for further details on the role of the 
Assembly)  

The Ministry of Interior supervises Kuwait's security 
apparatus, including the Criminal Investigation Department 
(CID) and Kuwait State Security (KSS), two agencies that 
investigate internal security-related offenses.  Kuwait's 
security forces continued to commit human rights abuses, 
particularly in their treatment of those peoples whose leaders 
were associated with support for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait 
(Iraqis, Jordanians, Palestinians, Yemenis, and Sudanese).

Endowed with rich oil resources, Kuwait's market economy made 
substantial progress in recovering from the destruction caused 
by the Iraqi occupation.  By 1993 Kuwait had an estimated per 
capita income of approximately $17,234.  Reconstruction was 
largely complete; however, heavy costs accompanied the 
recovery.  Over the past 3 fiscal years, Kuwait incurred a 
cumulative fiscal deficit of approximately $63 billion, a 
deficit that it covered by drawing down its foreign assets by 
half and increasing its public debt.  Despite the emphasis the 
Government places on an open market economy, foreign nationals 
may not own property or majority shares in significant local 
businesses and are subject to restrictive labor laws.  In 
addition, the Government has ownership interests in most of the 
major banks and in many businesses, chiefly in the oil industry.

Although Kuwait showed some progress in human rights in 1993, 
its overall human rights record was mixed.  The Government 
relaxed its residency restrictions on Gazans, made it easier 
for foreign workers to sponsor their family members, agreed to 
begin investigating the cases of long-term detainees, and 
closed illegal recruitment agencies for domestic servants.  The 
Human Rights Committee of the National Assembly and the press 
publicized important human rights issues, raising awareness of 
such issues at both the official and popular level.

Nevertheless, serious human rights problems remained.  There 
were continuing reports of torture and of arbitrary arrest, as 
well as limitations on the freedoms of assembly and association 
and women's rights.  Political parties remain banned, and 
citizens do not enjoy the right to change the head of state and 
government.  The Government banned all unlicensed 
nongovernmental organizations in August, thereby eliminating 
some organizations that had been engaged in human rights work.  
The Government continued to refuse to readmit stateless, Iraqi, 
and Palestinian individuals who had strong family ties to 
Kuwait, and Kuwaiti labor laws continued to exclude domestic 
servants from their protective provisions.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In August the body of a young Iraqi was discovered on the 
Kuwaiti side of the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border.  The Iraqi reportedly 
died from intracranial bleeding and pressure resulting from a 
large depressed fracture of the skull, and the body showed 
clear signs of severe abuse and torture.  Preliminary 
investigations indicated that the youth, along with three 
companions, had been apprehended by Kuwaiti police while 
attempting to infiltrate across the border.  All four were 
tortured and subjected to severe abuse before being released 
near the border a few days later.  During the preliminary 
investigations, Kuwaiti police denied any involvement in the 
incident and suggested that the perpetrators were Iraqis.

In January a Kuwaiti criminal court convicted three police 
officers in connection with the death of a Sri Lankan in 1992 
and sentenced them each to 5 years in jail with hard labor.  
The Court of Higher Appeal subsequently reduced the sentences 
to 2-year suspended sentences following the payment of "blood 
money" to the deceased's father.  

The Government reiterated that it was continuing to investigate 
the extrajudicial killings that occurred during the chaotic 
period after Kuwait's liberation in 1991.  Most of the killings 
and disappearances, however, remain unresolved.  Only one 
alleged perpetrator is known to have been arrested, prosecuted, 
and convicted.  The defendant, a former police investigator, 
was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two 
members and attempted murder of another member of a Lebanese 
family resident in Kuwait.  

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reported cases of permanent disappearances, but 
there were credible reports of foreigners (particularly those 
peoples whose leaders were associated with support for Iraq's 
invasion of Kuwait) being taken from their homes by 
unidentified Kuwaitis, held for a few hours, and then released 
as a tactic of harassment.

Numerous disappearances followed Kuwait's liberation in 1991 as 
elements of the military and vigilante groups sought 
retribution against persons, particularly foreigners, whom they 
suspected of being pro-Iraqi.

While there is no reliable estimate of the total number of 
disappearances, over 100 cases remained unresolved in 1993.  In 
additional cases where persons are known to be dead, law 
enforcement officials have failed to identify or indict 
suspects.

According to the latest and most accurate figures provided to 
Iraq by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 
609 Kuwaitis and residents of Kuwait, including 9 women, were 
taken prisoner by Iraqi authorities during the occupation and 
are still missing or detained in Iraq.  The Government of Iraq 
has refused to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolution 
687, which provides for the detainees' release.  Iraq denies 
that it holds Kuwaiti detainees and refuses to account for 
missing Kuwaitis taken into Iraqi custody during the occupation.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Article 31 of the Constitution specifically prohibits the use 
of torture, but cases of serious abuse or torture continued to 
be reported, although far fewer such cases were reported in 
1993 than in 1992.  

There were credible reports of abuse in Kuwaiti detention 
facilities, especially at the KSS facility.  Reported abuses 
included blindfolding detainees, verbal abuse, and some 
physical abuse, particularly beating detainees on the soles of 
their feet and burning detainees with cigarettes.  In some 
cases detainees were slapped, kicked, or shoved against walls.  
In one instance, Kuwaiti police and KSS personnel beat and used 
electrical shocks to torture a Kuwaiti man.  The Human Rights 
Committee of the National Assembly obtained his release, forced 
the officers involved to resign, and secured financial 
compensation for the man.

The ICRC has access to all places of detention in Kuwait.  The 
Government claims to have responded to specific allegations of 
abuse by investigating them and punishing at least some of the 
offenders.  However, because it has not been willing to provide 
details concerning the types of abuse and the punishment meted 
out, it is not possible to determine the likely deterrent 
effect, if any, of such action.

There were also credible reports of abuse of Iraqi infiltrators 
arrested while attempting to cross the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border 
(see Section 1.a.).  Specifically, there were credible reports 
of Kuwaiti security personnel beating infiltrators and 
suspending them from the ceiling for extended periods of time.  
To date, the Government has not conducted an effective 
investigation into these reports.

Evidence of mistreatment during interrogation may be submitted 
to Kuwaiti courts, and confessions or other evidence obtained 
through torture are excludable.  However, a number of sentences 
handed down by the 1991 martial law courts were based on 
confessions apparently obtained under torture.  In State 
Security Court trials, including the trial of the 14 men 
accused of attempting to assassinate former President Bush 
during his April 1993 visit to Kuwait, defense lawyers 
occasionally sought exclusion of confessions on the basis of 
torture.  In the latter case, following a court-ordered medical 
investigation, the judge ruled against excluding the 
confessions.

While prison conditions do not threaten life, they do 
frequently threaten health.  In addition to experiencing the 
physical mistreatment described above, prisoners also often 
must live in severely overcrowded rooms averaging as little as 
1 square meter per person.

Prison officials rarely release prisoners with severe medical 
problems, and sanitary conditions are such that a communicable 
disease would spread easily throughout the entire prison.  
Maintenance of toilets and showers is poor, frequently 
resulting in one shower or toilet being shared by up to 100 
people.  Maintenance of air conditioning is also 
inadequate--detainees at the main deportation center went 
without air conditioning and cold water for the entire summer, 
often experiencing temperatures above 125 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Prisoners may, however, exercise outside and receive visits by 
their family members.  The ICRC monitors prison conditions.

In June seven Iraqi detainees at the main deportation center 
went on a brief hunger strike to protest detention conditions.  
They sewed their lips together but continued to drink and take 
nourishment.  The Human Rights Committee of the National 
Assembly investigated conditions at the deportation center and 
presented a list of recommended improvements to the Minister of 
Interior.  Several of the recommended changes were made, 
including provision of better medical care at the deportation 
center.  

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Article 31 of the Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and 
detention, but this prohibition is not always honored in 
practice.  Although to a lesser degree than in 1992, there were 
continuing credible reports of arbitrary arrests in 1993, 
especially of persons picked up at police checkpoints around 
Kuwait City.  Foreign nationals from Yemen, Sudan, Jordan, and 
Iraq as well as Palestinians were especially subject to 
harassment and arrest at these checkpoints, as were other 
people without valid Kuwaiti residency visas.

Arrest warrants are required, but in misdemeanors the arresting 
officer may issue them.  Prosecutorial arrest warrants are used 
in felony cases.  Prosecutors are independent of the Ministry 
of Interior.  A review of the legality of detention is not 
required, but will be granted upon request.  A functioning 
system of bail exists.

The Kuwaiti Penal Code employs two different standards: one for 
criminal cases and one for cases involving state security.  In 
all cases, a detainee may not be held for more than 4 days 
without charge, but in practice that requirement has 
occasionally been ignored in cases involving the KSS.  In cases 
not involving the KSS, the suspect must either be released or 
charged by a prosecutor, who may authorize detention for an 
additional 21 days.  A judge may authorize further detention 
pending trial.

Detention rules are different for cases involving state 
security.  In July 1991, the Government amended the State 
Security Law to limit to 6 months the period of detention that 
a prosecutor may authorize.  A judge may authorize longer 
detentions pending trial.  A defendant may appeal the detention 
order to the State Security Court after 21 days in detention.  
If the appeal is rejected, the defendant may appeal again 30 
days after the rejection.  The Government, especially the KSS, 
occasionally prevents families from visiting detainees during 
the first 4 days while they are being interrogated.  After 
that, families are allowed to visit the detainees.  There does 
not appear to be any long-term incommunicado detention.  On 
average, detainees wait between 20 and 30 days for their trials 
to begin.

Approximately 650 persons remained in detention as of October, 
including those who had been convicted in either the State 
Security or the martial law courts, a decrease of 30 percent 
since 1992.  Approximately 75 percent of these persons were 
detained under administrative deportation orders, which may be 
issued arbitrarily and which provide no judicial recourse.  
Around 10 percent of these persons, especially Iraqis or bidoon 
(stateless residents of Kuwait), had been in detention for more 
than 1 year.  Cases against many of the people under 
administrative deportation orders are apparently not strong 
enough to take to trial, but the Government is unwilling to 
free them.  The Government will not deport them to Iraq against 
their will; the prisoners have nowhere else to go.  Until March 
of 1993, approximately 30 releases per month took place; after 
March the number dropped to approximately 5 releases per month.

Under Kuwaiti law, no Kuwaiti may be exiled.  Before the 
invasion, however, there were a few credible reports of the 
Government evading this law by revoking citizenship and then 
deporting the "non-Kuwaiti" individual.  There have been no 
reports of revocations of citizenship in the postinvasion 
period.

Noncitizens, even long-term residents, may be expelled without 
charge or judicial recourse if deemed "troublemakers" or 
"security risks."  In addition, foreign nationals may be 
expelled if they are unable to obtain work or residency 
permits.  During 1993 the Kuwaitis deported approximately 300 
detainees and approximately 250 family members of Palestinians, 
Yemenis, Sudanese, Jordanians, and Iraqis, a marked decrease 
from the 1992 figures of approximately 1,250 detainees and 
2,000 family members deported.  The ICRC monitors deportations 
only of the above-mentioned protected persons, but the 
Government also deports Iranians and other foreign nationals, 
including Americans and other Westerners who have violated 
residency requirements or committed other offenses.

Government policies pressured Palestinians and nationals from 
Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, and Jordan to leave Kuwait and made it 
difficult for foreigners in general to sponsor their family 
members' entry into the country.  The Government's actions 
reflected a deliberate policy aimed at changing the demographic 
balance to reduce Kuwait's overall reliance on foreign workers, 
particularly on nationals from countries considered hostile to 
Kuwait.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Kuwait's judicial system comprises the regular courts, the 
State Security Court, the Court of Cassation, and the military 
courts, which have jurisdiction only over offenses committed by 
members of the armed or security forces, except during periods 
of martial law.  Both Sunni and Shi'a courts exist for family 
law cases.

The Constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary 
and states that "judges shall not be subject to any 
authority."  While Kuwait's judicial system is nominally 
independent, the executive branch controls its administrative 
and financial matters.  In most recent cases, the courts have 
provided for fair public trials and the right of appeal.  The 
Amir appoints judges in the regular courts on the 
recommendation of the Justice Ministry.  Kuwaiti nationals who 
serve as judges usually receive lifetime appointments, while 
many non-Kuwaiti judges serve renewable 1- to 3-year 
contracts.  The Justice Ministry may remove judges for cause, 
but rarely does so.  There have been credible allegations by 
non-Kuwaitis of instances of pro-Kuwaiti bias in commercial 
disputes before the courts involving a Kuwaiti and a 
non-Kuwaiti. 

Trials are public unless the judge holds a session in his 
chambers, a move commonly made in cases involving sexual 
assault.  The Constitution states that "sittings of the court 
shall be public save in the exceptional cases prescribed by 
law."  Sessions of the State Security Court, including trials 
of the defendants in the Bush assassination attempt and 
collaborator trials, were open to the public.  Defendants have 
the right to be present at all trial sessions.

By law, all defendants in felony cases must be represented by 
attorneys, court-appointed if necessary.  In misdemeanor cases, 
defined as crimes punishable by less than 3 years' 
imprisonment, legal counsel is optional at the discretion of 
the defendant, but the court does not have to appoint a defense 
attorney if the accused cannot afford one.  In cases tried by 
the State Security Court, the Court must notify the defendant 
of his trial date at least 10 days in advance.  In cases tried 
by the criminal courts, no requirement of advance notice 
exists.  In both systems, however, lawyers may request a delay 
on the basis of not having had sufficient time and access to 
their clients in advance of trial.  Such a delay was requested 
by and granted to defense lawyers in the trial of the suspects 
charged with attempting to assassinate former President Bush.

Defendants may confront witnesses and present witnesses and 
evidence.  Defendants and their attorneys have the right to 
view all accusatory material used against them and must be 
notified of all prosecution witnesses in advance.  The 
Constitution states that "an accused person is presumed 
innocent until proved guilty in a legal trial at which the 
necessary guarantees for the exercise of the right of defense 
are secured."  Defendants tried and convicted in absentia have 
the right to appeal.  Both defendants and prosecutors may 
appeal verdicts of the State Security Court to the Court of 
Cassation.  The Court of Cassation may conduct a limited, 
formal review of cases to determine whether the law was 
properly applied in each sentence.  In criminal cases not 
involving state security, a broader right of appeal is 
available through the High Court of Appeal.  Regarding the case 
of 10 Palestinians who were sentenced to death by the State 
Security Court in June, international human rights groups have 
expressed concern about due process shortcomings, including 
restrictions on the right of appeal and the lengthy periods of 
pretrial detention.

In 1991 the Government prosecuted 74 cases involving 164 
defendants in martial law courts.  These trials did not 
generally meet internationally accepted standards of due 
process, but the Government has resisted international pressure 
to conduct retrials or allow appeals.  


Under the Constitution, the Amir has the power to pardon and 
commute all sentences.

There are no groups (including women) who are barred from 
testifying or whose testimony is given lesser weight in 
Kuwait's secular courts.  The Islamic courts, however, follow 
Islamic law, which states that the testimony of one man equals 
that of two women.  

Kuwait holds no Kuwaiti political prisoners but continues to 
hold foreign detainees and prisoners accused of collaboration 
with the occupying Iraqi forces, a criminal charge under 
Kuwaiti law.  As noted above, most of the individuals convicted 
in martial law courts (including the majority of collaborators) 
did not receive a fair trial.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The right to individual privacy and sanctity of the home is 
provided for in the Constitution, but there were credible 
reports that authorities continued to ignore this right.  
Kuwaiti law requires search warrants issued by the court or the 
prosecutor unless the police are in hot pursuit of a suspect 
fleeing the scene of a crime or there is an indication of the 
presence of alcohol or narcotics on the premises.  The 
prosecutor issues search warrants to conduct searches on public 
premises.

Kuwaiti police frequently manned checkpoints on major roads to 
search for weapons, infiltrators, or persons without legal 
residence permits.  Although drivers could legally refuse to 
have their vehicles searched, most allowed the police to do 
so.  There were numerous credible reports of harassment and 
arrest of foreign nationals (especially peoples whose leaders 
were associated with support for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, as 
well as bidoon) at checkpoints.  Foreigners without residence 
permits were also subject to arrest and detention.

In 1986 the Government restricted the right of Kuwaiti males to 
marry foreigners, decreeing that advance official approval 
would be required.  Government officials said that concern 
about meeting the State's responsibilities for the children of 
non-Kuwaiti spouses residing outside the country motivated the 
action, but the Government was also known to be concerned about 
the growing number of Kuwaiti males marrying foreigners rather 
than Kuwaiti women.  Kuwaiti women were publicly advised 
against marrying foreign nationals.  The Government has only 
sporadically enforced the law.

There is occasional surveillance of individuals and 
communications.  

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

There are laws that permit the Government to restrict speech 
and press freedoms, and the Government applied these laws on 
some occasions in 1993.  Many Kuwaitis, including critics of 
the Government, discussed issues and offered their opinions in 
public and private meetings.  However, public criticism of the 
Amir or Islam is not permitted, and some public meetings were 
subject to surveillance by Interior Ministry personnel.

In January 1992, the Government rescinded the 1986 decrees that 
provided for prepublication censorship. The Kuwaiti Journalists 
Association concurrently drafted and implemented a code of 
journalists' professional ethics.  However, less overt 
constraints on press freedom remain.  

The press law restricts the press from publishing materials 
that contain direct criticisms of the Amir, that involve 
official confidential communications or treaties and agreements 
with other states, or that "might incite people to commit 
crimes, create hatred, or spread dissension among the people."  
With the end of prepublication censorship, the Kuwaiti press 
had to become its own censor, exercising judgment about what to 
print under the press law, subject to potential government 
legal action.  The Government sometimes used the law to control 
and punish the press during 1993.  For example, the Attorney 
General issued a statement instructing local newspapers to ban 
reporting on financial scandals.  The local press published 
editorials denouncing the ban, and "violators" of the ban have 
not been punished.  Despite numerous efforts by various parties 
to obtain his release, a Yemeni journalist remained in the main 
deportation center where he had been sent in 1991 after 
reporting on a controversy at the Ministry of Education.

The press discussed a wide variety of social, economic, and 
political issues and criticized government policies and 
officials, taking care to avoid criticism that the Government 
might construe as libelous in nature.  The press criticized 
senior Kuwaiti officials, including the Prime Minister, the 
Minister of Defense, and the Minister of Interior, all of whom 
belong to the Al-Sabah family, on some issues but avoided 
criticism of the Amir.  Foreign press reporting from Kuwait is 
uncensored, and foreign journalists have generally open access 
to the country.  Newspapers must have a license from the 
Ministry of Information.  By law, publishers lose this license 
if their publications do not appear for 6 months.

One weekly leftist newspaper that served as an oppositionist 
democratic forum resumed publication in 1993; it had been 
banned since before the invasion.  In March the National 
Assembly overturned a 1988 Amiri decree dealing with secret 
state documents.  The Amiri decree, issued during a period when 
the National Assembly had been dissolved, gave ministers 
discretion to treat as state secrets practically all official 
documents that were not officially declassified.  Under this 
decree, journalists who revealed the contents of apparently 
innocuous documents could be subject to criminal prosecution.  

In a related case, the courts ruled in favor of an opposition 
newspaper that had been charged with publishing military 
secrets.

The Government owns and controls radio and television, but the 
Middle East Broadcasting Company and Egyptian television 
transmit their programs directly onto Kuwaiti television 
without censorship.  Satellite dishes are not forbidden, and 
many Kuwaitis watch a wide variety of uncensored cable 
television programming, including Israeli television.

Kuwait has a Censorship Department which reviews all books, 
films, videotapes, periodicals, and other material entering 
Kuwait in bulk or for commercial purposes.  In practice, such 
censorship is sporadic and aimed mostly at material considered 
morally offensive or pornographic.  In addition, the General 
Organization of Printing and Publishing controls the printing, 
publishing, and distribution of informational materials in 
Kuwait.  Private Kuwaiti cooperative societies occasionally 
boycott publications that offend moral sensibilities or Islam.

Academics operate with no apparent censorship of their 
teaching, research, or writings, while subject to the same 
restraints as the media with regard to criticism of the Amir or 
Islam.


     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

While political parties are banned, the Government has taken no 
action against a number of political groups that acted much as 
parties during the 1992 elections and succeeding National 
Assembly session.  Political activity finds its outlet in 
informal, family-based social gatherings known as diwaniyas.  
The Constitution affirms the right to private assembly "without 
permission or prior notification," specifying that "the police 
may not attend such private meetings," and also affirms the 
right to public meetings, processions, and gatherings that are 
"peaceful and not contrary to morals."  Public gatherings, 
however, must receive prior government approval, as must 
private gatherings of more than five persons that result in the 
issuance of a public statement.  Professional groups, bar 
associations, and scientific bodies operate and maintain 
international contacts without government interference.  

To operate legally in Kuwait, a nongovernmental organization 
(NGO) must obtain an official permit through the Ministry of 
Social Affairs and Labor.  Since 1985, however, the Ministry 
has granted no such permits for NGO's, with the sole exception 
of a permit issued in 1991 for the Women's Volunteer 
Association, headed by the wife of the Crown Prince.  The 
Ministry has denied all other requests on the grounds that 
Kuwait already has enough NGO's.  Over 55 NGO's are currently 
registered.  The Government subsidizes all licensed NGO's.  
Kuwait's law on public interest associations has been 
criticized by international human rights organizations as being 
clearly defective when compared to international standards for 
freedom of association.

Despite the Ministry's refusal to issue additional permits, 
private organizations have flourished in Kuwait, especially 
since liberation, their illegal status largely overlooked by 
the Government.  In August, however, the Council of Ministers 
passed a decree stating that all unregistered NGO's must cease 
operations.  The action appeared to be directed particularly at 
organizations working for the release of the missing Kuwaitis 
presumed held in Iraq and had the effect of eliminating some 
organizations that have been engaged in human rights work (see 
Section 4).  Some of these groups had engaged in activities 
that the Government viewed as politically unacceptable.


     c.  Freedom of Religion

Kuwait's state religion is Islam; the Constitution states that 
Shari'a (Islamic law) is "a main source of legislation" and 
also declares that "freedom of belief is absolute" but must not 
"conflict with public policy or morals."   The ruling family 
and many prominent Kuwaiti families are Sunni Muslims.  There 
are no restraints on worship by Shi'a Muslims, who constitute 
approximately 40 percent of all Kuwaitis.  Kuwait has a tiny 
Arab Christian minority that is allowed to practice its 
religion freely.  There are a number of legally recognized 
expatriate Christian congregations and churches, including a 
Catholic diocese and an American-sponsored Protestant church.  
Foreign nationals (e.g., Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists) who 
practice certain religions not sanctioned in the Koran may not 
build places of worship but may worship privately in their 
homes.  Missionaries may not enter the country and proselytize, 
but foreign clergy may enter Kuwait to serve expatriate 
congregations in a pastoral function.  Kuwaiti law prohibits 
religious education for religions other than Islam, although 
this law does not appear to be rigidly enforced.  Non-Islamic 
clergy training institutions and publishing houses do not exist 
in Kuwait.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

In general, Kuwaiti citizens have the right to travel freely 
within the country and to change their workplace as desired.  
Representatives of societies, associations, and trade unions 
wishing to travel abroad and participate in international 
meetings must receive prior permission.  In theory, both men 
and women enjoy the same freedom to travel abroad, but there 
are limitations in practice.  Husbands may prevent their wives 
and minor children from leaving the country by refusing to sign 
the required documentation that airport officials may ask 
departing wives to show upon leaving the country.  Married 
women who apply for passports must obtain their husband's 
signature on the application form.  Kuwaitis are free to 
emigrate and to return.  

An anomalous situation exists in the case of the 
bidoon--stateless persons generally of Bedouin background who 
claim that they have no nationality--who resided in Kuwait 
prior to the Iraqi invasion.  The Government argues that many 
bidoon are merely concealing their true citizenship so that 
they can remain in Kuwait, become Kuwaiti citizens, and enjoy 
the generous government benefits provided to Kuwaitis.  While 
some bidoon have longstanding ties to Kuwait, others immigrated 
to Kuwait in the 1960's and 1970's in response to the oil and 
construction booms.  An estimated 120,000 of the preinvasion 
bidoon population of about 220,000 remained in Kuwait in 1993.  
The Government prevented the return of bidoon who had left 
Kuwait, either willingly or by force, during the Iraqi invasion 
by delaying or denying their entry visas.  The Government's 
action imposed severe separation hardships on some families.

In 1993 the Government continued its postwar policy of reducing 
the number of Iraqis, bidoon, Palestinians, and other foreign 
nationals in the country.  Under the arrangements worked out 
between the Kuwaitis and ICRC representatives, the ICRC was 
able to interview deportees to verify that they did not object 
to returning to Iraq.  If they did object, they remained in the 
main deportation center.

As of October, 5,000 of the 8,000 Gazan Palestinians remaining 
in Kuwait and holding Egyptian laissez passer travel documents 
had been given 1-year residence permits.  The Government 
relaxed its restrictions on the remaining Gazans, establishing 
a tacit agreement not to round up Gazans for violating 
residence laws.  Many Gazans, however, left Kuwait voluntarily 
in response to social and economic pressure.

Kuwait has no national legislation on refugees, but the 
Constitution prohibits the extradition of political refugees.  
Persons who are granted political asylum are automatically 
issued residence permits.  The Government does not deport 
refugees who object to returning to their country of origin, 
but it does ask the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle such persons in a third country, 
as allowing them to remain in Kuwait would not fit in with the 
Government's population restructuring program, designed to 
reduce the number of foreigners in Kuwait.  The UNHCR has 
refused all such requests.  Refugees may also be held in 
detention if they are regarded as potential security risks.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Kuwaitis do not enjoy the right to change the head of state and 
government.  The 30 percent of adult Kuwaitis eligible to vote 
(see below) choose the membership of the National Assembly.  
Under the Constitution, executive power is vested in the Amir 
and under him in an appointed Council of Ministers headed by 
the Prime Minister who, in accordance with family politics, has 
been the Crown Prince.  Following the 1992 elections, the Prime 
Minister formed a 16-member Cabinet which included 6 elected 
Assembly members.  While the Constitution places legislative 
power in the hands of the Amir and the Assembly, that has not 
prevented the Amir from twice suspending constitutional 
provisions and ruling extraconstitutionally.

The most recent dissolution of the Assembly, decreed by the 
Amir in July 1986, lasted until the October 1992 elections.  
Although the Constitution grants the Amir the right to suspend 
the Assembly, it also obliges him to hold elections for a new 
Assembly within 2 months of the dissolution, otherwise the old 
Assembly regains its authority until the new one is elected.  
The 1986 decree circumvented the election requirement by 
suspending the section of the Constitution that called for new 
elections.  The Constitution gives the Amir the authority to 
suspend its articles only during periods of martial law.  The 
Amir declares martial law.  The Amir had previously dissolved 
the Assembly from 1976 to 1981.  In the Assembly's absence, the 
Amir rules by decrees having the force of law.  The Assembly 
has the constitutional right to review and approve or overturn 
Amiri decrees made in its absence.  After its convocation, the 
1992 Assembly reviewed all of the Amiri decrees and revoked 
some of them, including the official secrecy law (see Section 
2.a.) and an amendment to the law on public associations.  

Constitutionally, elections for the Assembly are to take place 
every 4 years by secret ballot.  The electoral law provides 
that candidates for the Assembly be self-nominated, with 
multiple candidates permitted for the 50 seats.  In 1992, 303 
candidates registered for parliamentary elections.  

Kuwaiti law prohibits the establishment of political parties; 
however, the Government tacitly accepted the existence of 
several opposition political groups which acted much as 
political parties during the 1992 Assembly elections and the 
ensuing Assembly session.

The law limits suffrage to adult males who resided in Kuwait 
before 1920 and maintained a residence there until 1959 and to 
their adult male descendants (21 years of age and older).  
According to current nationality law, naturalized citizens who 
do not meet the pre-1920 qualification but who have been 
naturalized citizens for at least 30 years must wait until 1996 
to acquire the right to vote.  This waiting period means that a 
large number of citizens do not have the right or the ability 
to participate in Kuwaiti elections.

Distinctions based on parentage, length of residence, and 
gender limit suffrage to approximately 30 percent of the adult 
population.  In the 1992 elections, approximately 82,000 
eligible Kuwaitis (almost the entire enfranchised male 
population) registered to vote.  While a majority of candidates 
elected to the National Assembly expressed opinions favoring 
women's right to vote during their election campaigns, a public 
backlash after the election resulted in several proposals on 
this issue being held in committee.  While both the Amir and 
the Prime Minister have publicly stated that they favor 
political rights for women, they have maintained that the 
National Assembly must decide the question.

Non-Kuwaiti residents do not exercise any political rights, nor 
do they participate in decisions affecting their interests.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

There are now no private local human rights organizations 
legally functioning in Kuwait.  Until the Council of Ministers' 
decree banning all unlicensed NGO's in August (see Section 
2.b.), the privately organized Kuwait Association for the 
Defense of War Victims (KADWV), created in March 1991, sought 
to help in the repatriation of internees from Iraq and address 
the physical and psychological needs of former prisoners of war 
and torture victims of the Iraqi occupation.  KADWV also sought 
to curb human rights abuses in Kuwait and took special interest 
in alleviating the problems of the bidoon.  Before the ban, the 
Government by and large did not interfere in the work of the 
KADWV, although on December 10, 1991 (Human Rights Day), it 
censored a KADWV publication that commemorated the Universal 
Declaration of Human Rights.  The Government has permitted 
visits and often met with representatives of various 
international organizations and private agencies concerned with 
human rights, while remaining largely unresponsive to their 
criticisms and recommendations.  

Government officials also cooperated with international 
humanitarian organizations, including the ICRC, the 
International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United 
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 


Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

Women in Kuwait suffer discrimination in both law and practice 
in many areas.  Women are denied the right to vote (see Section 
3) and are traditionally restrained from freely choosing 
certain roles in society.  There are no female judges or 
prosecutors, and only a few female Kuwaiti diplomats are 
stationed outside of Kuwait.  

While spousal abuse exists in Kuwait, there are no shelters for 
women who have been abused by their husbands.  Instead, cases 
are referred to the psychiatric department at the Ministry of 
Health.  Police station and Ministry of Interior employees who 
handle complaints of spousal abuse are specifically instructed 
to try to reconcile the dispute within the family before 
opening a case.  Each of the country's 50 police stations 
receives approximately one to two complaints of spousal abuse 
each week.  Offending spouses are asked to sign a statement at 
the police station stating that they will not continue the 
abuse.

Kuwaiti women who wear Western attire and foreign women are 
subjected to sexual harassment.  The physical and sexual abuse 
of some expatriate Asian women (especially from the 
Philippines, Sri Lanka, and other south Asian countries) who 
work as domestic servants received considerable attention in 
the press.  Some observers believe that the problem worsened 
after liberation.  On several occasions, the Philippine Embassy 
sheltered over 100 women at once.  Although most of these women 
sought shelter due to contractual or financial problems with 
their employers, some cases involved physical and sexual abuse.

Domestic servants may take legal recourse against their 
employers for abuse but generally do not because of a generally 
substantiated fear of reprisal and a sustained fear that the 
police and the judicial system will side with the Kuwaiti 
employer.  In March the Court of Appeal reduced to 2 years a 
10-year sentence that had been imposed on a Jordanian couple 
who had been convicted of "unintentionally" killing their 
Philippine maid through starvation and beatings.  In July, 
however, a Kuwaiti man and his Lebanese wife were sentenced to 
7 years in jail for the "unintentional murder" of their 
Philippine maid.  Although cited as an example of the Court's 
willingness to sentence a Kuwaiti for a crime committed against 
a domestic servant, the conviction on the basis of 
"unintentional murder" appeared highly questionable in view of 
the maid's injuries, which included a broken pelvis, broken 
arms, and burns over all her body.  The Government said it 
acted to punish abusers, but government action did not deal 
effectively with the problem.  The Government established an 
office to investigate crimes and complaints involving domestics 
but has not yet acted on plans to establish a shelter for 
runaway maids.  As an interim measure, the authorities 
designated a central police station to handle maids' complaints 
and shelter a small number of maids.  In addition to assisting 
foreign embassies with the repatriation of some of these women, 
the Government began to regulate recruitment agencies and close 
down unscrupulous ones.

Kuwaiti courts have the authority to dissolve a marriage if a 
woman is in danger of being harmed by her husband; Kuwaiti 
judges have also found husbands guilty of spousal abuse.  
Prostitution, although prohibited by Kuwaiti law, takes place.

Some legal discrimination against women exists, particularly 
with respect to Kuwaiti women married to foreign men.  Such 
women receive no government housing assistance and must pay 
residence fees for their husbands; residence is not guaranteed 
for their husbands unless the husband is working.  In contrast, 
Kuwaiti men married to foreign women do not have to pay any 
fees for their spouses, whose right to residence is automatic.  
Females do not receive social security benefits.  Under the 
Islamic laws of inheritance, male heirs receive twice as much 
as do female heirs.  (These laws apply only to Muslims; a 
special judge handles cases for non-Muslims.)  Women may own 
property and have the same property rights as men do.

Women are restricted from working in "dangerous industries and 
trades harmful to the health."  They are promised "remuneration 
equal to that of a man provided she does the same work."  This 
promise is respected in practice.

Kuwaiti women may drive and do not have to follow a dress 
code.  They have full access to government-provided higher 
education, and an estimated 60 percent of women of working age 
are employed.  Women work as doctors, engineers, lawyers, and 
professors.  A few women have reached senior government 
positions.  In July a woman was appointed to the Amiri Diwan 
(royal court) as Director of Political Affairs; a July Amiri 
decree named the first female president of Kuwait University.  
In September the woman Director of Political Affairs in the 
Amiri Diwan became Under Secretary in the Ministry of Higher 
Education.  Kuwait named its first woman ambassador in 1993 and 
the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), which runs 
Kuwait's oil industry, named a woman as its Managing Director 
for Administration and Economic Affairs, one of KPC's four top 
positions.

While a number of individual Kuwaiti women speak openly about 
the need to grant more rights to women, Kuwait lacks an 
organized women's rights movement.  Before the invasion, the 
Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF) had a Working Woman 
Committee.  The Committee has not yet resumed full activities 
since the Gulf war.

Another group, the Women's Social-Cultural Society, has 
committees dealing with cultural affairs, social activities, 
alms, nurseries, cancer, the media, cooking, tailoring, 
illiteracy eradication, and the Kuwaitis presumed detained in 
Iraq.  The Society also concerns itself with statistical 
studies on women, cases of Kuwaiti women married to 
non-Kuwaitis, legal and psychological counseling for women, and 
children's welfare.

     Children

The Government demonstrates its commitment to children's human 
rights and welfare through financial means.  For example, the 
Government provides child benefit allowances and provides free 
education and health care to all Kuwaiti children.  The 
Government also subsidizes infant formula.

Governmental expenditures on children's welfare cover orphans, 
foster children, handicapped children, and mentally impaired 
children.  The Government also provides monthly financial 
assistance for approximately 10,000 limited-income families 
with children.

There is no pattern of societal abuse (including child 
prostitution) of children.  Children of persons awaiting 
deportation are held along with their parents at the main 
deportation facility.  The Ministry of Interior forbade 
schools, public and private, from accepting children who do not 
have valid residence permits.


     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The plight of the bidoon (long-term residents of undetermined 
nationality) remained one of the most pressing human rights 
abuses in 1993.  In the late 1980's and up to the time of 
Iraq's invasion, the Government promulgated a series of 
measures that, inter alia, dropped the bidoon from the census 
rolls and stripped them of civil identification cards which had 
entitled the bearer to a variety of social services.  Many of 
these persons were in limbo, without the legal right to work, 
attend school, travel in and out of Kuwait, or marry.  The 
Government established a screening process to grant residence 
permits to bidoon who had served in the Kuwaiti military and 
security forces and their families and to bidoon in special 
categories (children of Kuwaiti/bidoon marriages).

In 1993 the President of Kuwait's Martial Judicial Authority 
announced that bidoon may no longer join the Kuwaiti army.  
(This decree reversed a 1967 law which allowed bidoon to 
enlist; it did not affect the bidoon already in the army.)

Foreign nationals are prohibited from having majority ownership 
in virtually every business other than certain small 
service-oriented businesses and may not own property.  The 
Government continued its Kuwaitization policy, begun in 1991, 
applying significant labor and educational access restrictions 
to foreigners, especially Palestinians and other "suspect" 
nationalities.  These persons found it difficult to obtain work 
and resident permits.  The Government's tying of access to 
education to possession of a valid residence permit further 
restricted access to public education, creating hardships for 
some foreign nationals with families.

In past years, as part of its deliberate demographic policy to 
reduce the number of expatriates in the country, the Government 
also made it difficult for foreign workers to sponsor their 
families for residency by installing high minimum wage 
requirements for the individual workers wishing to apply for 
family visas.  In mid-1993, however, the Government eased these 
difficulties by abolishing the visa fees for children and 
lowering the minimum wage requirements by almost 50 percent.

     Religious Minorities

Before the 1986 dissolution of the National Assembly, Islamic 
groups within that body secured a bar on granting citizenship 
to non-Muslims that is still in effect.  


The administration of Kuwait's extensive welfare programs 
reflected no evidence of discrimination among citizens based on 
religion.  Kuwait's Shi'a minority are less likely, however,  
to be appointed to sensitive government positions, although two 
ministers, including the important Minister of Oil, and a 
high-ranking military officer are Shi'a.

     People with Disabilities

No institutionalized discrimination exists against physically 
disabled persons in housing, employment, education, and 
provision of state services.

While the Government has not legislated or otherwise mandated 
accessibility for the disabled, Kuwaitis show a high degree of 
concern about the problems facing people with disabilities.  A 
Committee for Disabled People exists as part of the Ministry of 
Social Affairs and Labor, the Ministry which serves as the 
regulatory agency for such issues.  The Ministry of Social 
Affairs and Labor also provides extensive benefit programs 
covering transportation, job training, and social welfare for 
the disabled.  Although not required to do so by law, almost 
all grocery stores have designated special parking spaces for 
the disabled.

A government rehabilitation center exists, as does a private 
society for handicapped children.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Kuwaiti workers have the right to join unions, but Kuwaiti law 
prevents the establishment of more than one union per 
functional area or more than one general confederation.  Union 
membership in 1993 was approximately 28,400 people organized in 
14 unions.  All but two of the unions, the Bank Workers' Union 
and the Kuwait Airways Workers Union, are affiliated with the 
Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF).  The KTUF consists of 
nine civil service unions (18,800 members) and three oil sector 
unions (6,900 members), but the oil unions have equal 
representation (36 members) in the 72-member KTUF assembly.  
The remaining two unions had approximately 2,700 members.

Foreign workers, who constitute the vast majority of the work 
force, were permitted by law to join unions as nonvoting 
members after 5 years of residence in Kuwait.  In practice, 
foreign workers interested in union membership may generally 
join within a year of starting employment and residency in 
Kuwait.  In 1993 non-Kuwaitis constituted 33 percent of the 
unionized workers.  

Kuwaiti labor law stipulates that any new union must include at 
least 100 workers, at least 15 of whom must be Kuwaiti.  The 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) 
criticizes the latter requirement because it prevents workers 
in sectors where few Kuwaiti nationals are employed, notably 
the construction and domestic sectors, from organizing in trade 
unions.  The KTUF opened an "Expatriate Labor Office," 
responsible for resolving problems between foreign workers and 
their employers in the private sector.  The office does not 
interact with the Government.  It looks into complaints of 
foreign laborers, provides legal advice free of charge, and 
takes necessary action.  The office assists all foreign 
laborers, regardless of whether or not they are union members.

Although unions are legally independent organizations, in fact, 
the Government maintains a large oversight role with regard to 
their financial records; 90 percent of union budgets are in the 
form of government subsidies.  Unions must also follow a 
standard format for internal rules and constitutions, which 
includes prohibitions of any involvement in domestic political, 
religious, or sectarian issues.  In practice, these limitations 
have not prevented unions from engaging in a wide range of 
activities.  In 1992 and 1993, for example, unions played some 
role in domestic political affairs; the KTUF actively sought 
the return of the Kuwaitis detained in Iraq, supported Kuwait's 
return to parliamentary life in October 1992, urged members of 
the electorate to vote, and called for standardization of 
Kuwaiti nationality.

Under the law, a court may dissolve a union for violating labor 
laws or laws concerning the "preservation of public order and 
morals."  Such a court decision may be appealed.  The Amir may 
also dissolve a union by decree.  No union has been dissolved 
in either manner.  Kuwaiti citizen union members have the right 
to elect representatives of their own choosing, provided the 
candidates are also Kuwaitis and can demonstrate that they have 
no criminal record.

The right to strike is recognized but is limited by Kuwaiti 
labor law, which provides for a compulsory negotiation followed 
by arbitration if a settlement cannot be reached between labor 
and management (see Section 6.b.).


One strike occurred in April.  Conducted by 170 petroleum 
workers protesting a 12-year-old labor dispute, it was settled 
between the Ministry of Oil and the petroleum syndicate within 
a few days.  Kuwait is a member of the International Labor 
Organization (ILO) and has ratified the 1948 ILO Convention 87 
on Freedom of Association.  However, Kuwaiti laws do not have 
specific provisions to prohibit retribution against strikers 
and strike leaders.    

The ILO's Committee of Experts (COE) reiterated again in 1993 
its longstanding criticisms of a number of discrepancies 
between the Kuwaiti Labor Code and ILO Conventions 1, 30, and 
87 on hours of work and freedom of association and noted the 
Government's assertion that draft revisions to the Labor Code 
fulfill all provisions of the conventions "except those which 
run counter to national security."

Areas criticized by the ILO included the prohibition on 
establishing more than one trade union for a given field, the 
requirement that a new union must have at least 100 workers, 
the requirement that foreign workers must reside in Kuwait for 
5 years before joining a trade union, the denial to foreign 
trade unionists the right to vote and to be elected, the 
prohibition against trade unions engaging in any political or 
religious activity, and the reversion of trade union assets to 
the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor in the event of 
dissolution.

The KTUF belongs to the International Confederation of Arab 
Trade Unions and the formerly Soviet-controlled World 
Federation of Trade Unions.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Workers have the right to organize and bargain collectively, 
subject to the restrictions cited above.  These rights have 
been incorporated in the Labor Law and have, according to all 
reports, been respected in practice.

Collective bargaining is a three-step process beginning with 
direct negotiations.  The Labor Law provides for direct 
negotiations between employers and "laborers or their 
representatives" in the private sector.  In practice, most 
agreements are resolved through negotiations, possibly with the 
assistance of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.  Some 
employers have wage scales set by wage surveys.  If an amicable 
agreement is not reached, the parties may petition the Ministry 
of Social Affairs and Labor for settlement.  If no agreed 
solution is reached by this means, the dispute is referred to a 
labor arbitration board composed of officials representing the 
High Court of Appeals, the Attorney General's office, and the 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.  Most differences do not 
reach arbitration.

The Civil Service Law makes no provision for collective 
bargaining between government workers and their employers.  The 
government administratively sets civil service wages.  Many 
consider civil service wages and benefits more generous than 
wages and benefits for comparable jobs in the private sector.  
In practice, government workers' representatives and ministry 
officials hold coordination meetings on a periodic basis.  If 
the individual ministry and its workers do not reach an 
agreement, the issue is raised to the Council of Ministers, 
whose chairman, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, also 
chairs the Civil Service Council.  Union officials resolve most 
issues at the working level and enjoy free access to the Crown 
Prince and other senior officials.

Kuwaiti labor law prohibits antiunion discrimination.  Any 
worker who alleges antiunion discrimination has the right to 
appeal to the judiciary.  There were no reports of 
discrimination against union or nonunion employees.  Employers 
found guilty of antiunion discrimination must reinstate workers 
fired for union activities. 

There are no export processing zones in Kuwait.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor "except in cases 
specified by law for national emergency and with just 
remuneration."  Nonetheless, there continue to be credible 
reports that foreign nationals employed as domestic servants 
have been denied exit visas if they seek them without their 
employers' consent.

Foreign nationals must obtain a Kuwaiti sponsor in order to 
obtain a residence permit and cannot change their employment 
without permission from their original sponsors.  Domestic 
servants are particularly vulnerable to abuses from this 
practice because they are not protected by Kuwaiti labor law.  
Sponsors frequently hesitate to grant their servants permission 
to change jobs because of their financial investment in the 
servants.  In many cases employers exercise some control over 
their servants by holding their passports, although the 
Government prohibits this practice and has acted to retrieve 
passports of maids involved in disputes.

Domestic servants who run away from their employers can be 
treated as criminals under Kuwaiti law.  In some reported 
cases, employers illegally withheld wages from domestic 
servants to cover the costs involved in bringing them to 
Kuwait.  The Government has done little, if anything, to 
protect domestics in such cases.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age under Kuwaiti law is 18 years for all forms of 
work, both full- and part-time.  Compulsory education laws 
exist for children between the ages of 6 and 15.  These laws 
are not fully observed in the nonindustrial sector.  Some small 
businessmen employ their children on a part-time basis, and 
there have been unconfirmed reports that some south Asian 
domestic servants are under 18.  The Minister of Social Affairs 
and Labor is charged with enforcing minimum age regulations.  
Employers may also obtain permits from the Ministry to employ 
juveniles between the ages of 14 and 18 in certain trades.

Juveniles may work a maximum of 6 hours per day on the 
condition that they work no more than 4 consecutive hours 
followed by a rest period of at least 1 hour.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor is responsible for 
enforcing all labor laws.  There is no legal minimum wage in 
the private sector.  A two-tiered labor market ensures high 
wages for Kuwaiti employees while foreign workers, particularly 
unskilled laborers, receive substantially lower wages.  In 1993 
the minimum wage in the public sector, administratively set by 
the Government, was approximately $630 a month (180 Kuwaiti 
dinars) for Kuwaitis and approximately $315 a month (90 Kuwaiti 
dinars) for non-Kuwaitis, amounts sufficient to provide a 
decent living for a worker and his family.

The Labor Law establishes general conditions of work for both 
the public and the private sectors, with the oil industry 
treated separately.  The Civil Service Law also prescribes 
additional conditions for the public sector.  Labor law limits 
the standard workweek to 48 hours with 1 full day of rest per 
week, provides for a minimum of 14 workdays of leave each year, 
and establishes a compensation schedule for industrial 
accidents.  Domestic servants, who are specifically excluded 
from the private sector labor law, frequently work long hours, 
greatly in excess of 48 hours.  

The ILO has urged Kuwait to guarantee the weekly 
24-consecutive-hour rest period to temporary workers employed 
for a period of less than 6 months and workers in enterprises 
employing fewer than five persons.  Reflecting the petroleum 
sector's importance to Kuwait, the law governing employment in 
this area is more generous than the general laws.  It provides 
for a 40-hour workweek, 30 workdays of annual leave, and a 
generous sick leave policy which authorizes sick leave for up 
to 2 years.  Laws establishing work conditions are not always 
applied uniformly to foreign workers.  Kuwaiti labor law also 
provides for employer-provided medical care and compensation to 
workers disabled by injury or disease due to job-related 
causes.  The law also requires that employers provide periodic 
medical examinations to workers exposed to environmental 
hazards on the job (i.e., chemicals, asbestos, etc.).

The Government has issued occupational health and safety 
standards; however, compliance and enforcement appear poor, 
especially with respect to unskilled foreign laborers.  Kuwaiti 
employers often exploit workers' willingness to accept 
substandard conditions.  Foreign workers, especially unskilled 
or semiskilled south Asian workers, frequently face contractual 
disputes, poor working conditions, and some physical abuse.  In 
August several Indian laborers accused the Kuwaiti police of 
beating them after police intervened in a bitter contractual 
dispute.  They also alleged that some of them had occasionally 
been forced to work clearing unexploded mines along the Iraqi 
border, a task for which they had no training.  In practice 
Kuwaiti labor laws do not protect most foreign workers well.

Workers have the right to remove themselves from dangerous work 
situations without jeopardy to their continued employment, and 
legal protections exist for workers who file complaints about 
such conditions.  In 1992 there were 798 occupational injuries, 
primarily in the sectors of construction and building, 
manufacturing, hotels and restaurants, and transportation.  To 
cut accident rates, the Government periodically inspects 
installations to raise awareness among workers and employers 
and ensure that they abide by the safety rules, control the 
pollution resulting from certain dangerous industries, train 
workers who use new machines in specialized institutes, and 
report violations.


[end of document]

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