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Update: Sunday 28th July, 2019:  Mother of three Indian, migrant worker enslaved in Kuwait returns to her family in Amritsar, India on Friday 26th of July following her horrendous ordeal after held in captive by her enslaver for a year.

The enslaver demanded a release bond totalling 1,200 Kuwaiti dinar (approximately  £ 3,193 GBP) in return for her release.

The  Indian expat community led by members of the  the ‘Aam Aadami Party’, the Punjab Chapter in Kuwait  (‘AAP’) a political party,  raised the ransom demanded by the enslaver in order to secure the release of the victim. AAP then proceed to highlight and share  what they perceive to be a ‘victory’ via the media and via their social. Whilst their intentions are no doubt compassionate and well  intended, we have serious concerns about these actions

  1. Failure by the Kuwaiti authorities and the Indian Embassy to recognise that the victim was enslaved;
  1. Slavery is a criminal offence. It should have been reported to the Kuwaiti Police who should have investigated it. No statements were taken and no formal compliant was filed with Police;
  1. Slavery is not considered seriously in Kuwait and therefore not addressed;
  1. The enslaver faced no legal action and no doubt will repeat his crime;
  1. No data is recorded in relation to the number of incidents of slavery;
  1. Article 4 of the UNDHR states ‘No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms’;
  2. Targeted discrimination against South Asian work migrants, especially from India;
  3. The victim was subjected to mental and physical abuse. She did not receive any medical assessment, counselling or treatment on her release. Clearly she was traumatised by the circumstances of her experience. The Indian authorities failed to ensure that the victim received any such support. Instead she was put on a return to India. After landing in India the victim was clearly unwell. Her son admitted her into hospital for treatment;
  4. The Indian expat community’s actions hinder and distort the data relating to the acts of crime. International Human Rights bodies are oblivious to these issues and therefore cannot address it; 
  1. ‘AAP’s’ actions are for their own political publicity and a breach of data protection. They disregard the sensitivity of the case, the trauma and the impact on the victim;
  2. The actions of the expatriates is well intentioned however, they are complicit in perpetuating the crime of slavery since the enslaver knows that they will profit from it;
  3. The Indian must take responsibility and raise the matter with the Kuwaiti authorities at ministerial level. This issue needs to be internationalised. 

Update: 14th July, 2019: We are extremely concerned to learn that it has come to light that Kiran was ‘sold’ to and is enslaved by a Pakistani national leaving in Kuwait. He is demanding  500 Kuwaiti dinar (approximately £1,308 GBP) for her release!

The Indian Embassy in Kuwait has called a ‘meeting’ with the enslaver to negotiate secure Kiran’s release!

What  is even more shocking, is that the Indian Embassy’s  failure to understand and identify that slavery is a crime; it is a breach of article 4 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

This is a Police Matter – Why have the Kuwaiti Police failed to arrest the enslaver? 

Justice Upheld was recently  contacted by the family of a female migrant worker believed to enslaved and detained in Kuwait.

In July 2018 Kiran (not her real name) a mother of three from Amritsar, India traveled to Kuwait to work as a domestic worker. Her post was procured via a ‘recruitment agent’ in Punjab in India who then  contacted an agent in Mumbai.

Kiran’s family were concerned at the lack of contact from her. When they called Kiran, her conversations were guarded. Her eldest son explained that he could hear male and a female voices  close by during these telephone calls. They appeared to dictate as to when the calls ended. He felt that his mother was prevented from having a free and full conversation with her family. 

The family feared that there was something wrong. Kiran had not sent money back home to support her family other than an initial remittance in her first month of working in Kuwait.

Realising that Kiran was in trouble, Kiran’s husband Rajinder (not his real name) reported the matter to the Police in Amritsar. Rajinder felt the Police were not taking his complaint and concerns seriously. He pursued the matter vigorously with the Police however, despite the same it is alleged the Police did not take any action. 

Rajinder claimed that his compliant was not even recorded. Out of desperation and frustration, Rajinder paid a bribe in the sum of 3,000 Indian Rupees (approximately £30 GBP) to a Police Officer to initiate action and start an investigation. Despite accepting the alleged bribe, an investigation was not initiated.

On the 5th of May, 2019, Rajinder collapsed and died following a massive heart attack. His children blame the burden of stress and the trauma of their mother’s plight and the lack of help from the authorities as the cause of their father’s death.  

Until recently, Kiran and Rajinder’s children feared that their mother was dead. During a recent brief telephone with their mother, the eldest of her children informed Kiran of their father’s sudden death. Kiran is devastated. Her children fear the impact on  grieving alone so far away from home.

Following the intervention of Justice Upheld, a formal investigation has begun to locate and repatriate Kiran to India. The ‘recruitment agent’ in Punjab has been arrested and is detained in Police custody. 

Concerns raised in this case:

These cases repeatedly include a common thread role of unregulated and unregistered recruitment agents. Failure by the Indian authorities to prosecute these rogue agents means the problem persists unabated. 

There is a lack of awareness of rogue agents amongst the public and the risks of working abroad. This is not publicised effectively to the public. More needs to be done to address this especially in the rural areas of India where often where the victims originate from. This could be easily addressed by establishing campaigns spread via the village Councils  and via places of worship. Likewise, the Indian Ministry of Women and Children could do far more than it is doing to educate potential migrant workers.

There is an absence of collecting and collating data relating to the plight of the abused migrant workers by the Indian authorities for them to understand the issues facing the migrant workers.

The abuse and victimisation of migrant workers is not raised by the Indian authorities as concerns at ministerial level with the offending countries. This should be of concern to both India and the offending countries since India is the largest remittance receiving country in the world:

with migrant workers from the country sending home USD 69 billion in 2017 (Economic Times – )

 

Why are people so desperate to leave Punjab? States like a Punjab need address the cause. People want to work but lack the opportunities in Punjab. There are limited opportunities for the predominantly young population of Punjab who are frustrated by the lack of work and training opportunities look to move abroad as a way out. There is a sizeable proportion of the youth population of Punjab who have succumbed to the drug epidemic in Punjab – an epidemic that has been denied by successive national and local governments and which remains unaddressed with the vigour and professionalism it requires. The potential of the youth is not valued by the Governments both at local and national level as valuable resource. 

The bribe allegedly made to the Police is not only criminal offence but also a misconduct offence in a public office. 

Our experience in dealing with the Indian Police is that  there is a failure to identify and recognise that the abused migrant worker is a victim of a criminal act. The usual response is that the migrant worker left of his/her own violation and by the own their choice. The Human Rights and social justice aspects are ignored.

Returning victims of slavery are not provided with counselling or medical support  who are often traumatised by their experience. Accordingly, they rarely report their degrading treatment and the abuse they have suffered which may include being victims of people trafficking, prostitution, sexual abuse and or being being ‘sold’.  

Further reading:

Times of India

Global Slavery Index – Kuwait

 

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