COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The tenth, eleventh and twelfth periodic reports of Kuwait, submitted
in one document (CERD/C/226/Add.5), were considered by the Committee
at its 995th and 996th meetings held on 9 August 1993 (see CERD/C/SR.995
The report was introduced by the representative of the State party,
who pointed out that Kuwait categorically rejected racial discrimination
and was committed to implementing all the provisions of the Convention.
Discrimination was unknown to Kuwaiti society, and it had therefore
been considered unnecessary, at the time of the drafting of the 1963
Constitution, to make a specific reference to discrimination on grounds
of colour or race. Since its accession to the Convention in 1968,
Kuwait had been diligent in reporting to the Committee. However, circumstances
beyond its control had prevented timely submission of the tenth, eleventh
and twelfth reports.
Members of the Committee welcomed the resumption of the dialogue
with the State party, which was still recovering from the effects
invasion it had suffered recently, and expressed appreciation for
the fact that the report submitted by Kuwait was more elaborate
the previous ones and largely followed the Committee's guidelines
for the preparation of reports. They nevertheless expressed regret
that the report did not provide sufficient information on practical
measures taken in the country to implement the Convention. They
that the statement in the report that "the State of Kuwait ...
has witnessed no discriminatory racial practices among its inhabitants" seemed to be in contradiction with various reports of discriminatory
policies and practices affecting certain categories of the population.
It was pointed out that the report did not seem to have fully taken
into account the very comprehensive definition of racial discrimination
given in article 1 of the Convention, which included discrimination
on grounds of colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.
Recalling that States parties were under an obligation to report
fully on legislative measures relating to foreigners and their
members of the Committee wished to receive further information
on the situation of non-Kuwaitis residing in the country following
liberation of Kuwait. They requested more details about the demographic
composition of the country, including statistics on the number
foreign residents who had left the country after its liberation.
Members asked for more precise information on the current situation
categories of persons who were reported to be in a very vulnerable
position. According to reports from various sources, the Bedoons
the Palestinians had been subjected to ill-treatment, detention,
expulsion and torture on the grounds of alleged sympathy for Iraq;
said to have been dismissed
from public sector employment and their children had been excluded
from the public school system. Similar
problems were reportedly faced by Iraqi nationals and citizens
of other countries that had not participated in the coalition.
it was alleged that many domestic staff of Asian origin, mainly
women, were subjected to debt bondage, other illegal employment
passport deprivation, illegal confinement, rape and physical assault.
Members requested information on measures taken by the Government
to improve and remedy that situation.
With regard to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee
requested additional information on differences in the rights of those
who had acquired Kuwaiti citizenship since 1922 by comparison with
those descended from persons having that citizenship earlier; that
appeared to be in conflict with the obligation under the Convention.
In connection with the implementation of article 3 of the Convention,
it was asked whether any de facto segregation occurred on the basis
of ethnic or national origin.
Concerning article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee noted
that although Kuwait had reiterated its commitment to the provisions
of that article in the report, the Kuwaiti authorities had not yet
adopted specific legislation prohibiting racial discrimination. In
that connection, they recalled the mandatory character of such legislation
and stressed the importance of legal anti-discriminatory provisions,
if only for preventive purposes.
In respect of article 5 of the Convention, members asked whether
the right to equal access to and treatment before the courts was
for non-Kuwaitis, taking into account the fact that non-citizens
could face expulsion without charge or judicial recourse, whereas
might be exiled. Information was requested on measures taken to
prevent the occurrence of extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment
which were reported to have affected certain categories of foreigners
after the liberation of Kuwait. Members of the Committee requested
further information on the situation of foreign workers in the
period, and it was asked whether they enjoyed trade union rights.
Members of the Committee also wished to know whether the provision
of health care, education and training services applied to migrant
workers and their
families, and whether facilities existed for foreign students to
attend schools in which they could study their mother
tongue. Clarification was sought on the exercise of the right to
freedom of religion, and the possibility for members of various
faiths to build their own places of worship.
With regard to article 6 of the Convention, additional information
was requested on the right of victims to seek adequate reparation
or satisfaction for damage suffered as a result of discrimination;
on the way in which the right of recourse to the courts was enjoyed
by citizens of States with which Kuwait had not concluded bilateral
agreements; and how many cases had actually been brought before the
judicial authorities and settled by them. It was asked whether the
Government of Kuwait had fully exercised its powers to prosecute violations
of the provisions of the Convention.
As to the provisions of article 7 of the Convention, members of the
Committee asked what measures had been taken to ensure their full
implementation including, in particular, measures for the training
of law enforcement personnel.
In his reply, the representative of the State party recalled the
provisions of article 29 of the Constitution of Kuwait, concerning
rights and obligations, without distinction as to race, origin,
language or religion. He pointed out that the situation of foreigners
changed after the country's liberation; the Kuwaiti State was still
endeavouring to protect their status and ensure them a stable life
and a decent standard of living. With regard to the expulsion of
following the ending of the Iraqi occupation, he stated that large
numbers had now returned. The nationals of countries which had
with the Iraqi regime during the occupation of Kuwait, and more
particularly Palestinians, had not been subjected to ill-treatment
Out of the 400,000 Palestinians on Kuwaiti territory, 250,000 had
during the occupation because of the prejudice they had suffered.
The Kuwaiti State had paid the wages of all those who had left,
collaborators, who could be brought before the courts. There were
at the present time approximately 50,000 people in Kuwait with
document issued by another country that refused to receive them.
Those persons were well treated. A National Assembly human rights
had conducted a study of Palestinians holding travel documents
and had sent a recommendation to the authorities for them to be
with a residence permit, and the Government was in the process
of taking the necessary measures. Domestic staff were not ill-treated
in Kuwait and any problems that did arise concerned only about
cent of such employees. The State guaranteed them the same rights
as any other Kuwaiti citizen, including the right to institute legal
proceedings in the event of ill-treatment; in that regard, a court
had recently sentenced an employer to seven years' imprisonment
ill-treating a domestic servant. The Government had set up a reception
centre for employees fleeing from families for which they worked.
As to the question of why a law had not been enacted pursuant to article
4 of the Convention, the representative of the State party pointed
out that the Convention formed an integral part of internal legislation
and that there were laws against discrimination; furthermore, no one
in Kuwait had ever been prosecuted on the grounds of racial discrimination.
With regard to any human rights violations committed in Kuwait following
the country's liberation, the representative of the State party said
that they had occurred during a short period of uncertainty before
matters had been taken in hand by the authority of the law. Once it
was restored, that authority had made sure that persons brought before
the courts benefited from all judicial guarantees and a fair and public
hearing. As to the criteria to be applied in granting Kuwaiti nationality,
that question was now being discussed in Parliament, with a view to
finding a fair and equitable solution to the problem. Kuwaiti women
had access to the highest posts; granting women the right to vote
was now under consideration and the authorities ensured the elimination
of all discrimination based on sex.
At its 1008th meeting, held on 17 August 1993, the Committee adopted
the following concluding observations.
The Committee welcomed the resumption of the dialogue with the Government
of Kuwait. It welcomed the information contained in the report and
the additional information presented orally, and appreciated the fact
that the report was more detailed and comprehensive than previous
ones and followed the general reporting guidelines adopted by the
Committee. It regretted, however, that the report did not provide
information on the implementation of the Convention in practice and
about factors and difficulties that impeded its application.
(b) Positive aspects
The Committee noted with interest the important developments taking
place in the National Assembly, where issues concerning the status
of Bedoons and criteria determining the granting of Kuwaiti nationality
were being debated. The Committee also noted the willingness of the
Government to continue to provide further information on the implementation
of the Convention.
(c) Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the Convention
The Committee recognized that, as a consequence of the invasion and
occupation of Kuwait by Iraq, the State party had been subjected to
serious difficulties which had temporarily affected the full implementation
of the provisions of the Convention.
(d) Principal subjects of concern
The Committee was particularly concerned about expulsions and other
discriminatory measures against especially vulnerable groups of
including Palestinians, stateless Arabs, Bedoons, Iraqis and nationals
of countries which did not participate in the anti-Iraq coalition,
and the treatment of foreign domestic servants. The Committee was
concerned that no specific measures had been envisaged to eliminate
discrimination with respect to descent, national or ethnic origin.
In that connection the Committee referred to official discrimination
made between two categories of Kuwaiti citizens: those who possessed
longstanding Kuwaiti nationality and those who have acquired Kuwaiti
nationality in more recent times. Furthermore, the Committee expressed
its concern about the lack of penal legislation to implement the
of article 4 of the
The Committee was particularly concerned about discriminatory measures
leading to the exodus of foreigners in the period following the liberation
The Committee regretted the absence of concrete information in the
report of the State party on the implementation of the provisions
of articles 2 to 7 of the Convention in practice. The Committee noted,
in particular, that no information was provided in the report on the
situation of non-Kuwaitis residing in Kuwait, although they were thought
to constitute the majority of the population.
(e) Suggestions and recommendations
The Committee recommended that the comments and concerns it had expressed
with regard to the consideration of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth
periodic reports of Kuwait should be taken into account by the State
The State party should take steps to guarantee the enjoyment by individuals
belonging to vulnerable groups of foreigners, including foreign domestic
servants, of the rights enshrined in the Convention without any discrimination;
to eliminate discrimination deriving from the dual system of citizenship;
to revise the Penal Code in order to introduce specific legislation
to implement the provisions of article 4 of the convention in accordance
with General Recommendations VIII and XV of the Committee; to guarantee
the right of recourse in courts to victims of discrimination; and
to implement the provisions of article 7 of the Convention, in particular
through adequate training in human rights norms of law enforcement
personnel in the light of General Recommendation XIII of the Committee.
The State party should include, in its thirteenth report, due in January
1994, concrete information about the demographic composition of the
population, including the foreign population, and details about the
economic, social and political status of non-Kuwaiti residents. That
report would enable the Committee to continue its examination of the
situation in Kuwait which warranted close monitoring.