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Negotiations only if Manila adheres to Kuwait’s demands

By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mansour Al-Otaibi said that the door remains open for negotiations with the Philippines on the ban on issuing visas for Filipino nationals, as long as the Philippines adheres to Kuwait’s demands. The demands include that the Philippines admits to violating Kuwaiti laws and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations through the practices of its embassy in the country. 

“These violations should be stopped by the Philippine Embassy, and we hope to resolve them in the coming period,” he said on Sunday. “The Philippines must acknowledge the violations committed by its embassy, pledge not to repeat them and hold perpetrators accountable,” he said. Meanwhile, Otaibi confirmed that the Kuwaiti ambassador to Sudan and members of the diplomatic mission have returned home following the recent attacks on Kuwait’s embassy in Khartoum.

The interior ministry had said last Wednesday that the visa ban would remain in place indefinitely after labor talks between Kuwait and a Philippine delegation ended without agreement. Renewal of residence permits of Filipino legal residents will continue as usual. 

The statement issued by the interior ministry Wednesday said the Filipino delegation “refused to comply with conditions presented by Kuwait” to not repeat violations by the Philippine Embassy. “As a result, the interior ministry insists on its position rejecting any violation of the sovereignty of Kuwait and the dignity of its citizens,” the statement said. 

The conditions set by Kuwait include an admission by the Philippine Embassy that it violated laws, decisions and charters in Kuwait, which amount to a breach of diplomatic practices. Kuwait also demanded that the embassy pledge not to repeat such violations in the future. Concerned authorities in Kuwait will then have to issue an official warning against the violation of local laws and regulations. The statement said that if the Filipino side had accepted the conditions, the interior ministry would have reviewed the ban on visas.

The Public Authority of Manpower also listed a number of violations committed by the Philippine Embassy. They include asking labor recruitment offices to remove domestic helpers from Kuwaiti homes under the pretext they have completed their work contract. It also charged the embassy pressured recruitment offices to house domestic helpers at their residences, despite knowing this is banned in Kuwait. 

PAM said the embassy also forced recruitment offices to search for runaway maids, bypassing official agencies in the country. The embassy also forced recruitment offices to include items in work contracts that employers don’t want. PAM also charged mistreatment of Kuwaiti citizens when they visit the embassy. The embassy also accommodates workers in private housing or a shelter affiliated with it, despite some of these workers being in violation of the residency law or have absconding notices filed against them.

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