Human rights in Kuwait: Wikis


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Human rights in Kuwait are mixed. Whereas Kuwaiti nationals enjoy a moderate range of rights, there are severe allegations of human rights abuses among foreign nationals. Kuwait uses the death penalty for crimes like murder and drug trafficking.



Kuwait is a party to several international human rights treaties, including[1]

Human Trafficking

In June 2007, Kuwait became among the worst offenders in human trafficking according to a report issued by the United States Department of State. The inclusion was due to the Kuwait government's repeated failure to tackle the problem. Migrant workers were often subject to poor housing, severe beatings, confiscation of passports, and extremely long hours with little or no wages. Migrant workers were also placed under the sponsor system which puts them under the mercy of their employers restricting their movement which has been widely described as "modern day slavery".[2][3]


As an Islamic State, alcohol is forbidden in Kuwait, although it's available on the black market. Drinking or carrying alcohol in public is illegal.

Eating and Drinking during Ramadan

As an Islamic State, eating and drinking in public during ramadan is banned.

Women's Rights

In June 2007 the National Assembly of Kuwait unanimously passed a law to restrict the hours that women are allowed to work. The law bars women from working between 8:00 pm and 7:00 am with an exception for women working in the medical profession. Women are also prohibited from jobs that "contravene with public morals" and that require women to be in otherwise all-male environments.[4]


Inthe mid 2000's Kuwait ranked 85th in the Reporters Without Borders world survey of the freedom of the press[5]. According to the 2004 full report, Kuwait ranks among the most free countries in the Middle East for the press, but there is still widespread self-censorship of local and foreign press, and certain subjects are understood to be taboo.[6]

Katherine Phillips detention incident

One noted human rights situation was the incident in which Katherine Phillips, an American educator and former vice-principal of the private Al-Bayan Bilingual Middle School in the Gulf State Kuwait,[7] was detained.[8][9] It stemmed from an incident in which Phillips disciplined the son of Fawaz al Marzoug, who felt Phillips unfairly disciplined his son, Khalid Al Marzou, when Khalid broke up a fight on school grounds. Instead of rewarding the boy Phillips punished him which Marzouq felt was unfair.[10] This case in particular had caused widespread concern among US overseas educators.[7][9]

On June 13, 2007, Phillips was at the Kuwait International Airport intending to leave the country. She was stopped at immigration where she was informed that there was a case against her, pending further investigation and that a travel ban had been placed on her 15 months after the incident.[10] Phillips has said, "The parent said that he would make this personal and this seems to be what he is intent upon doing." [7][8]

The case of Katherine Phillips made headlines in the local and international press after the teacher posted on the Internet a letter, asking for help.[7][8][9] The incident also sparked comment in many blogs, particularly ones dealing with the issues of westerners residing in the middle east, and ones dealing with overseas educators.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17]

The U.S. embassy in Kuwait confirmed in a statement a travel ban had been imposed on her, adding its consular section was in contact with the authorities to help Phillips leave Kuwait as soon as possible.[8][9][10]

On Tuesday, 3 July, 2007, due to the efforts of Al Bayan Bilingual School management, Kuwaiti legal counsel and the Kuwait Human Rights Society the situation regarding Phillips was resolved, and she was allowed to leave the country.[7][10]

See also


  1. ^ University of Minnesota: Human Rights Library: Kuwait accessed 9-8-2006
  2. ^ Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report 2007:[1]
  3. ^ Kuwait [2] accessed 7-1-2009
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ Reporters Without Borders: 2005 Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index accessed 8-8-2006
  6. ^ Reporters Without Borders:Kuwait: Annual Report 2004
  7. ^ a b c d e "ISR Lifts Work/Travel Advisory for Kuwait and Kuwaiti Schools". International Schools Review. International Schools Review, inc. 3 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  8. ^ a b c d "U.S. trying to lift Kuwait travel ban on teacher". Yahoo News (quoting Reuters). Yahoo!. 30 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  9. ^ a b c d "US Embassy ‘on it’ after ISR boycott call, father’s appeal for travel-ban daughter who fears for safety". Arab Times (Kuwait). June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-11. "“US Embassy Consular staff are in regular contact with the American teacher Katherine Phillips, her attorney and appropriate Kuwaiti authorities to resolve the matter so that Ms Phillips will be free to leave Kuwait as soon as possible,” said James Fennell, Press Attache American Embassy, in a statement to the Arab Times." 
  10. ^ a b c d "Teacher barred from traveling leaves Kuwait". Gulf Times. Gulf Publishing & printing Co.. 4 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-11. "Katherine Phillips said last month she had been refused permission to leave Kuwait after she fell out with the family of a fifth-grade boy she had suspended after a fight.>" 
  11. ^ "Teacher Detained in Kuwait". Quatar Living. 30 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  12. ^ "Kuwait -- Katherine Phillips". EFL Geek. 8 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  13. ^ "Katherine Phillips leaves Kuwait". Wheat-dogg’s world. 9 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  14. ^ "Katherine Phillips In Her Own Words". Here There and Everywhere. 3 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  15. ^ "Helicopter Parenting: Americans Teaching in Kuwait Imprisoned and/or Threatened; Embassy Does Nothing". I Speak of Dreams. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  16. ^ "Expat Teacher Stuck in Kuwait for Suspending a Student". 27 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  17. ^ "American teacher stuck in Kuwait". Two Forty-Eight AM. 26 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 

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