Growing pressure for Europe to investigate mistreatment of women in #Kuwait

| June 5, 2018

An important trading partner and investment destination for EU goods, Kuwait is being challenged to show that it is not turning a blind eye to human rights abuses at home. Following a series of reports by this newspaper and other international media highlighting growing cases of women in Kuwait being made targets for persecution, MEP David Martin this week wrote to the EU’s foreign policy chief demanding a full accounting by the Kuwaiti authorities and an investigation by the European Parliament – writes Josie Simmons

Martin, an MEP for almost 35 years and with a seat on the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, wrote to Federica Mogherini that the treatment of prisoners and complaints by human rights groups of poor justice and “disproportionate” sentences, especially against minorities and foreigners, are a reason to be “very concerned”.

Martin’s raising the alarm about violations of due process and infringement of liberty have been echoed by Transparency International, Amnesty International and most recently Human Rights Watch in their 2018 report, which highlighted ongoing concerns about overcrowding in prisons and the treatment of minorities and especially foreign women.

Martin’s letter added: “With six to seven in a cell and only a small window for ventilation in the blistering heat of Kuwait, it’s a perfect depiction of mistreatment and a clear breach of human rights. It’s a wonder people aren’t dying in these types of conditions”.

Martin and other prominent international voices across Europe are drawing particular attention to the plight of Marsha Lazareva, who he says has been sentenced to 10 years of hard labour in a “controversial decision by the courts, and where basic needs such medical care and even a bible are arbitrarily denied.”

Martin said, “For people like Marsha, access to medicine and adequate care for an ongoing illness is essential.  The degradation suffered by many of the women prisoners is truly shocking. For a nation which prides itself on being a signatory to conventions on human rights, it must be alarming to other nations that these practices are allowed to go on unchecked.”

He says Lazareva “is one of many foreign nationals left to rot” in Kuwait’s female prison, explaining: “Often kept in cells together, they are victimised for being foreign and of different religions. Moreover, access to children is a top concern for human rights groups, and for people like Marsha, a mother of a 4-year-old and daughter of an elderly mother, this causes unnecessary harm to families.  As a father myself I know that it must be difficult for a young child to have to deal with their absence of a parent but to not be in a position to have proper access when legally allowed must go beyond frustration.”

The letter ends, “I call upon the Commission to look into this case and open dialogue on these alleged human rights abuses in Kuwait.”



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