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Kuwait gov’t urged to end modern-day slavery of OFWs

AN opposition party-list congressman yesterday called on the Kuwait government to end the modern-day slave trade of Filipino household service workers (HSWs) as he backed the Palace decision to keep the deployment ban.

“This is the problem if the (Kuwaiti) employer effectively owns the visa of the worker. You can be handed over to another employer there, almost like merchandise.” said ACTS OFWs Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III, a member of the House opposition bloc.

Bertiz said Kuwait should take forceful steps to protect the rights and welfare of migrant laborers.

“We are absolutely behind the President’s decision. We need a guarantee that what happened to Joanna Demafelis won’t happen again to another Filipino worker in Kuwait,” said Bertiz.

“The ban should stay, considering that we still do not have the definitive assurances of the Kuwait government that our HSWs there are being adequately looked after,” said Bertiz.
    
Bertiz said Demafelis, 29, and a native of Sara, Iloilo, originally had a Kuwaiti national for an employer, but was later “sold” to a Lebanese national.
    
“This is the problem if the (Kuwaiti) employer effectively owns the visa of the worker. You can be handed over to another employer there, almost like merchandise,” said Bertiz.
    
Bertiz said Kuwait still does not have laws recognizing and promoting the rights and welfare of foreign workers providing household services, adding Kuwait does not adhere to International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189, which extends basic rights to HSWs around the globe.
    
“There are many countries that have not ratified the ILO Domestic Workers Convention of 2011, but they have at least taken constructive and concrete measures to safeguard the rights of HSWs,” said Bertiz.