Monday, June 13, 2011
Fifty Years of Waiting, but Government Offers Only Handouts
June 13, 2011
"(Kuwait City) - Kuwait has not made good on its decades of promises to address citizenship claims for more than 106,000 stateless Bidun residents, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 63-page report, "Prisoners of the Past: Kuwaiti Bidun and the Burden of Statelessness," describes how in Kuwait, one of the world's richest countries, the Bidun live under the radar of normal society, vulnerable and without protection. Many live in poverty. Kuwait considers the Bidun "illegal residents." The government has denied them essential documentation, including birth, marriage, and death certificates, as well as access to free government schools and legal employment opportunities.
"Like the rest of the Arab world, the Bidun have had enough and are demanding reforms the government should have made years ago," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The government responded to peaceful demonstrators with promises of reform, but it needs to go further and tackle their citizenship claims."....
International human rights law requires governments to provide certain civil documentation for all residents, whether legal or illegal, including a child's right to registration upon birth, and the right to marry and found a family. The Kuwaiti government should ensure the Bidun's right to civil documentation, including birth certificates, marriage registration, death certificates, and travel documents.
"Denying Bidun basic identification documents on the basis of secret evidence that they have other nationality is as arbitrary as it is unfair," Whitson said. "The Kuwaiti government's policy to make Bidun invisible doesn't make the Bidun problem go away, but it does bring suffering and exclusion to vulnerable people." .....
For 50 years, Kuwait has dawdled in reviewing Bidun citizenship claims, while creating a straightjacket of regulations that leave them in poverty and extreme uncertainty. Kuwait has every resource it needs to solve this problem, but chooses to stall instead......"
Download The Report (pdf, 63 pages)