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Today, RI, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International submitted a joint letter to the Emir of Kuwait demanding an end to abuses of the stateless bidoon and the acknowledgement of their citizenship rights. The full letter is as follows:
September 27, 2012
HH Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah
Al Diwan Al Amiri
Seif Palace – Building 100
State of Kuwait
We write to you regarding the more than 100,000 stateless residents of your country, commonly referred to as Bidun. The legal, social, and economic vulnerability of the Bidun has long been a source of unease to our organizations and to governments around the world.
Since the start of demonstrations in 2011, however, the Kuwaiti Government’s treatment of the Bidun has deteriorated to such an extent that it has eroded Kuwait’s ability to fulfil its international human rights commitments.
We feel bound to convey our concerns to Your Highness directly.
In the realm of civil and political rights, the Bidun are not treated equally before the courts and continue to be denied protection conveyed through nationality and residency; and have been subjected to repeated abuse and discrimination.
Progress on securing the social and cultural rights of Bidun have also stagnated in recent months.
The 11 benefits for Bidun that were promised by the Government in April 2011 have not been implemented, leaving many Bidun without access to employment, health care, education, and other vital public services, as well as documents such as birth certificates. Particularly egregious is the government’s exclusion of Bidun children from primary and secondary education – a problem that is exacerbated by a recent government ban on charitable contributions, including tuition, to Bidun individuals and organizations.
For decades, Kuwaiti, Arab and international human rights activists and organisations, along with United Nations human rights bodies, have called on the government to implement policies to resolve the plight of the Bidun.
The absence of such policies, rooted in human rights standards, is a stain on the country’s international reputation. It deprives thousands of families of their basic political, economic and social rights and bars them from contributing fully to Kuwaiti society.
We firmly believe it is in Your Highness’s interest to address this issue decisively, and we urge Your Highness to initiate five steps to:
Director of Programs
Director, Middle East and North Africa Program
Sarah Leah Whitson
Director, Middle East and North Africa Division
Human Rights Watch