David Martin calls on Commission to investigate human rights abuses in Kuwait

Written by Martin Banks on 4 June 2018 in News
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S&D group MEP David Martin has said that the treatment of women in Kuwait gives cause for much alarm.

David Martin | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


Martin has raised his serious concerns about what he says is the decreasing human rights record of Kuwait.

He told this website this had led him to send a written question to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. 

In the letter to the Italian official, he states that the treatment of prisoners and complaints by human rights bodies of poor justice and “disproportionate” sentences, especially against minorities and foreigners, are a reason “to be very concerned”.

Martin, who has been an MEP since 1984, said, “The treatment of women in Kuwait’s only female prison is causing much alarm.

“It was built for just 2000 inmates but it now houses over 6000 in dirty, cramped conditions, is ripe for disease and infection, as well as intimidation by other cell mates and prison staff.

“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,” added the MEP, who sits on Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights.

One particular case highlighted in Martin’s letter is that of Marsh 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 says, “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. 

“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.”

Martin is not the first to raise such concerns recently. Human Rights Watch in their 2018 report highlighted the ongoing concerns of overcrowding in prisons and the treatment of minorities within Kuwait.

 

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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