Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of all UN Treaty Bodies and their follow-up procedures. This does not include the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which are available here: http://www.crin.org/resources/treaties/index.asp
Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity.
- UN Human Rights Committee
- UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
- UN Committee against Torture
- UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- UN Committee on Migrant Workers
- UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance
Concluding observations adopted: 8 July 2016
Positive legislative developments: The Committee welcomes the adoption of Act No. 21 (2015) concerning the rights of the child, which provides, inter alia, for the protection of children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, the establishment of child protection centres in each governorates, and the increase in the age of criminal responsibility from 7 to 15 years old (para 3).
Discrimination against “Bidoon”: The Committee notes steps taken to regularize the status of stateless “Bidoon” currently viewed by the State party as a category of “illegal residents,” including by granting the Kuwaiti nationality to some of them, registering a number of them, and providing access to social services for a large number of them. It is concerned, however that the process of granting Kuwaiti citizenship to “Bidoon” is slow; at the situation of stateless “Bidoon” who remain unregistered and are not able to obtain civil documentation and access to adequate social services; that “Bidoon” face restrictions in their freedom of movement, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression; and that the State party considers offering them the “economic citizenship” of another country in exchange of a permanent residence in Kuwait (para 10).
The State party should: (a) speed up the process of granting Kuwaiti citizenship to “Bidoon”, where appropriate; (b) guarantee the right of every child to acquire a nationality; (c) register and provide non-discriminatory access to social services to all “Bidoon” residing in Kuwait; (d) ensure that “Bidoon” enjoy their right to freedom of movement, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression; (e) set aside plans to offer “Bidoon” the “economic citizenship” of another country in exchange of a permanent residence in Kuwait, and (e) consider acceding to the 1954 Convention on the Status of Statelessness Persons and to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and having the related obligations implemented into the State party’s domestic law (para 11).
Non-discrimination and equality between men and women: The committee regrets the lack of progress in repealing discriminatory provisions against women such as those contained in the Personal Status Law and the Nationality Law, including in such matters as polygamy, minimum age of marriage, contracting to marriage, divorce, parental authority, inheritance, status of women’s testimony before courts compared to that of men, and the ability of Kuwaiti women to pass on their nationality to their children and foreign spouses on an equal footing with Kuwaiti men (para 14).
The State party should: undertake a comprehensive review of existing laws to repeal or amend, in accordance with the Covenant, all discriminatory provisions that affect gender equality; take appropriate measures to enhance and promote equality; adopt measures to prevent early and forced marriages, including by setting a minimum age for marriage that complies with international standards and making the signature of a marriage contract by both spouses mandatory (para 15).
Last Reported: 19 and 20 October 2011
Concluding Observations adopted: 1 and 2 November 2011
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Age of marriage: The Committee is concerned that the minimum age for marriage is too low and that it differentiates on the basis of sex. The Committee is also concerned that the State party does not take active measures to prevent early marriages that are practiced by some parts of the population. The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex in the minimum age of marriage. It should also ensure that the minimum age complies with international standards and should adopt active measures preventing early marriage of girls. (arts 3, 23) (Para. 10)
Nationality: The Committee is concerned about discrimination between Kuwaiti men and women with regard to the ability to transmit Kuwaiti nationality to their children, and also concerned that children who are born in Kuwait to stateless parents may not acquire any nationality. The Committee is concerned about the lack of transparency in the process of acquiring Kuwaiti nationality, in particular with respect to the failure to communicate the reasons behind the denial of such nationality, and about the absence of a review process, which fosters arbitrary decisions. (arts. 2, 3, 24, 26)
The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Guarantee the right of every child to acquire a nationality, in compliance with article 24, paragraph 3 of the Covenant, and end discrimination between men and women in the transmission of nationality. The State party should guarantee that applicants are officially informed of the reasons why they were denied Kuwaiti nationality, and should also implement a review procedure. (Para. 12)
Last reported: 5 November 2013 Concluding observations adopted: 29 November 2013
Statelessness: The Committee is concerned that the categorization of “Bidouns” as ‘illegal residents’ reflects neither their status of stateless persons nor their historical sense of belonging to the Kuwaiti society. The Committee is also concerned at the slow pace of progress made in finding a permanent solution concerning their legal status by 2015, as the majority of this population is still denied most of their economic, social and cultural rights, in spite of the recommendations made by the Committee and other treaty bodies. (art. 2(2))
The Committee recommends that the State party expedite the work entrusted in 2010 to the Central Body to review Bidoun claims for recognition of their status under the law on citizenship and that it find a permanent solution in conformity with international law by 2015. The Committee also recommends that the State party: involve legal experts or judges in the citizenship review process to ensure that decisions are taken according to the relevant laws and standards, and to guarantee the right of individuals to be informed of the grounds of decisions taken and the right to appeal; accelerate the naturalization process for those who meet the legal requirements; ensure birth registration of children of stateless women, including those who are not registered with the Central Body, irrespective of the nationality of the father; expedite the adoption by the National Assembly of the decision endorsed by the Central Body granting Bidouns access to socio-economic rights and address the administrative obstacles to their effective access to services; and accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. (Para. 10)
Marriage: The Committee is concerned at practices and legal provisions on marriage which do not meet the State party’s obligations under article 10 of the Covenant on the protection of family, the care of dependent children and the free consent to marriage. The State party calls on the State party to: (a) establish a minimum age for marriage of boys and girls to at least 18; (b) abrogate the restrictions on marriage with foreigners or non-Muslims; and (c) ensure that marriage is entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses. (art. 10) (Para. 25)
Compulsary Primary Education: The Committee is concerned that primary education is not compulsory for non-Kuwaiti children living in the State party. The Committee is also concerned at restrictions to enrolment at the State party’s university. (arts. 13 and 14)
The Committee calls on the State party to equally apply compulsory education to non-Kuwaiti children living in the State party. The Committee also recommends that the State party ensure that higher education is made equally accessible to all, on the basis of personal capacity, in accordance with article 13(2)(c) of the Covenant. Moreover, the Committee recommends that the State party implement the plan to expand its higher education infrastructure and further develop its fellowship system for disadvantaged and marginalized groups, with a view to fully achieving and securing the right to higher education for all. The Committee refers the State party to its general comment No. 13 (1999) on the right to education. (para. 29)
Last Reported: 30 April and 3 May 2004
Concluding Observations adopted: 14 May 2004
Issues Raised and recommendations given:
Trafficking: The Committee is concerned about the rising incidence of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, including for the purpose of domestic work. The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Take effective measures to combat trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, by ensuring, inter alia, that those responsible for trafficking are prosecuted, and to ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, of 2001. The Committee recommends that the State party establish support services for victims of trafficking and take steps to sensitise law enforcement officials and the general public to the gravity of this issue. The Committee requests the State party in its next periodic report to report on the progress made in this regard. (Paragraphs 21 and 41)
Children born out of wedlock: The Committee is equally concerned about the insufficient information on children born out of wedlock, submitted by the State party, and remains unclear about their legal status. The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Ensure that all children, including children born out of wedlock, are granted the same rights. (b) Provide in its next periodic report detailed information on the status of children born out of wedlock. (Paragraphs 22 and 42)
Abortion: The Committee takes note with concern of the statement made by the delegation of the State party that abortion is allowed only when the life of the mother is endangered. The Committee is also concerned about the lack of a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health programme in the State party. The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Expand legislation to include other motives for performing legal abortion with a view to preventing illegal abortion. (b) Develop a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health programme and report back to the Committee on this issue in its next periodic report. (Paras. 23 and 43)
Education: The Committee is concerned that ages for admission and completion of free compulsory primary to intermediate education have not been clearly set. The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Set ages for admission to, and completion of, free compulsory primary to intermediate education. In this regard, the Committee refers the State party to its general comment No. 11 (1999) on plans of action for primary education and general comment No. 13 (1999) on the right to education. (Paragraphs 25 and 45)
The Committee is also concerned that the State party does not provide free compulsory education to non-Kuwaiti children as a right enshrined in the Covenant. The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Adopt the necessary measures to ensure that non-Kuwaiti children living in Kuwait have access to free compulsory education as a right enshrined in the Covenant. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the State party provide in its next periodic report disaggregated data. (Paras. 26 and 46)
Last Reported: 13 October 2011
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Stereotypes and harmful practices: Despite the efforts by the State party to raise awareness on women's equality and eradicate the patriarchal culture and discriminatory stereotypes about the role and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society, the Committee notes with concern the limited impact of such measures as discriminatory stereotypes overemphasising the roles of women as wives and mothers continue to prevail in the State party. While there is information on several projects on Kuwaiti women and families such as the studies on the effect of the Internet on marital harmony, the reasons why some girls imitate boys in secondary schools in Kuwait and the impact of satellite channels on the behaviour of Kuwaiti girls, the Committee is concerned about the lack of clarity about the results of those measures which may in fact reinforce discriminatory stereotypes. The Committee also notes with concern that early stage school curricula also contribute to the prevalence of stereotyped roles of women and men and that there is lack of information about the role played by the media and by NGOs in combating negative stereotyping and societal attitudes.
The Committee recommends that the State party: (a) Revise its awareness-raising measures and studies to effectively promote gender equality and overcome patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted discriminatory stereotypes concerning the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society, and inform the Committee about the results of those measures in the next periodic report; (b) Amend early stage school curricula to prevent conveying stereotyped images about the roles of women and men; (c) Take systematic measures to engage media and NGOs in combating negative stereotyping and societal attitudes; and (d) Provide information about the results of the projects related to girls and women. (Paras. 28 and 29)
Violence against women: The Committee is concerned that no shelters are available for married women victims of violence and that the Care Centres attached to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Work refuse to accommodate girls under 18 subjected to family violence. The Committee urges the State party to: (a) To provide for sufficient number and quality of shelters for all female victims of violence without restrictions linked to age or marital status. (Paras. 30 and 31)
Trafficking and sexual exploitation: While welcoming the information about the submission of a draft Law against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants to the National Assembly, and the prohibition for employers in the civil and oil sectors to withhold the travel documents of employees, the Committee notes the lack of clarity about the envisaged definition of trafficking in persons in the draft Law and expresses its concern about the explanation provided by the State party regarding the maintenance of stringent standards of proof applied by the courts and the Criminal Investigation Division for determining whether women are forced into prostitution against their will, in particular the evidence of coercion such as locked doors and barred windows. The Committee is also concerned at the information given that non-citizen women who are victims of forced prostitution are granted residence permits only if a sponsor is available for the victim and the victim's innocence is proven.
The Committee recommends that the State party: (a) Include in its draft Law against Trafficking in Persons a definition of trafficking as well as safeguards of investigation, prosecution and punishment of such acts in accordance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children supplemental to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime; (b) Establish a centralised national mechanism to coordinate efforts aiming at preventing and combating trafficking in persons and protecting its victims, and adopt a national plan of action in that regard; (c) Relax stringent standards of evidence of coercion and allow for the consideration of the whole set of circumstances in cases of forced prostitution, and consider granting residence permits on humanitarian grounds to non-citizen women who are victims of trafficking and forced prostitution; (d) Collect data on acts of trafficking and on victims who have been detained, prosecuted or deported since 2005 for acts such as prostitution or absconding; and (e) Address the root causes of trafficking, including its close link to prostitution and sexual exploitation of women and girls, including foreign domestic workers. (Paragraphs 32 and 33)
Nationality: The Committee reiterates its serious concern that under the Nationality Act female Kuwaiti nationals are not entitled to pass on their nationality to their children, except in cases of divorce, death or statelessness of the father of the children and that even in such instances the decision to grant nationality to the child is not automatic. It notes with concern that unlike men, Kuwaiti women are still unable to pass their nationality to their foreign spouses. The Committee is also concerned about reports that the issuance and renewal of identity cards for the Bidoun – "illegal residents" is subject to the requirement that they sign affidavits renouncing any claim to Kuwaiti nationality.
The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Review the Nationality Act to ensure equality between women and men with regard to the acquisition, change and retention of nationality and to enable Kuwaiti women to pass their nationality to their children and to their foreign spouses; and (b) Refrain from forcing Bidoun - "illegal residents" upon issuance or renewal of their identity cards to sign affidavits renouncing any claim to Kuwaiti nationality. (Paragraphs 26 and 37)
Education: While noting increased numbers of girls and women enrolled in universities, especially in studies of medicine and engineering, the Committee expresses its concern at the instructions of the Ministry of Education preventing married students from continuing studies in day schools while permitting their registration in evening schools, despite much higher drop-out rates in evening schools. The Committee notes with concern the segregation of students based on sex in public secondary schools and universities pursuant to Law No. 24/1996 and the employment of only same-gender educational and administrative staff in the public schools, which may perpetuate discriminatory stereotypes. It is also concerned about the lack of clarity as to whether education on sexual and reproductive health and rights forms part of public school curricula.
The Committee recommends that the State party: (a) Review regulations on married women's attendance at schools and allow their enrolment in day schools; (b) Allow for mixed education in public schools and employ mixed-gender educational and administrative staff in public schools; and (c) Include more comprehensive education on sexual and reproductive health and rights in public school curricula. (Paragraphs 38 and 39)
Health: While welcoming the recent enactment regarding the obligation for all physicians to report physical and psychological violence against children under the age of 17 to the Social Protection Police, the Committee expresses its concern at the lack of policy for medical personnel to monitor and report cases of domestic violence against women and continued practice of seeking male guardian's consent to medical treatment of a woman.
The Committee is also concerned about the lack of legislation regulating the detention and treatment of mentally-ill patients in psychiatric hospitals without a determination of detention and its duration. The Committee is particularly concerned about reports relating to several incidents of involuntary psychiatric hospitalisation of women for social misbehaviour or breaking societal norms. The absence of clarity about the medical standard establishing grounds for abortion in the cases of rape and incest is yet another source of concern.
The Committee urges that the State party: (a) Ensure regular training and sensitisation of medical personnel in order to systematically monitor all acts of domestic violence and report thereon to law enforcement authorities; (b) Abolish, as a matter of priority, the requirement of male guardian's consent to urgent or non-urgent medical treatment of a woman; (c) Adopt a law on mental health to regulate the detention and treatment of mentally-ill patients in psychiatric hospitals in accordance with international standards, including a determination of detention and its duration by the court; and (d) Adopt medical standards and provide for implementation mechanisms establishing that rape and incest constitute grounds for abortion. (Paras. 42 and 43)
Marriage and family relations: The Committee notes with concern the continued application of the discriminatory provisions contained in the State party's Personal Status Act, in particular the permissibility of polygamy, the prohibition for Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, the requirement of consent of walis for the marriage of Sunni women, the restrictions on women's right to divorce, and the inheritance rights of Sunni women, who unlike Shia women, must share their deceased husband's property with his male relatives. The Committee is also concerned about the absence of information on any steps taken by the State party to raise the minimum age of marriage for women and men from 15 and 17 years, respectively, to 18, as recommended by the Committee, as well as on measures to prevent early marriages in tribal groups.
The Committee recommends that the State party: (a) Review the discriminatory provisions of the Personal Status Act and in particular repeal the prohibition for Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men and restrictions on women's right to divorce, raise the legal minimum age of marriage to 18 for both men and women in conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and take all necessary measures to prevent the practice of early marriage in all societal groups in the State party; (b) Eliminate the requirement of consent of walis (guardians) for the marriage of Sunni Muslim women; (c) Discourage and prohibit polygamous marriage in practice and in law, in accordance with the Committee's General Recommendation No. 21 (1994); and (d) Consider revising the provisions of inheritance law so that women are able to inherit on terms of equality with men. (Paras. 50 and 51)
The Committee also expresses its deep concern that articles 110 of the State party's Civil Code and 209 of the Personal Status Act still vest the guardianship over a minor child to a father and other male relatives, while mothers can serve as guardians only when authorised through a court decision. Thus, mothers continue to be prevented from taking decisions and representing their children before official bodies, in particular in regard to registering their children in and transferring them to schools in which case they need a power of attorney from the father even if the mother has been appointed a guardian by the court.
The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Ensure that both fathers and mothers can exercise custodial and guardianship rights over their minor children on an equal basis in all areas of life in accordance with the best interest of the child standard as contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Kuwait is a party, and article 16 of the Convention. (Paragraphs 52 and 53)
Adopted by Commmittee: 8-9 August 2016
Published: 5 September 2016
Ratification and national policies:
The Committee welcomes the adoption of the Rights of the Child Act No. 21, which provides, inter alia, for the protection of children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, in 2015. (para.4f)
The Committee also welcomes the establishment by ministerial decree No. 116 of the Supreme National Committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Minister of Health to lay the foundations and plans required to protect children from ill-treatment and neglect, in 2013; and the promulgation of ministerial decision No. 127 on the recommendation of the Supreme National Committee, which prescribes the establishment of a mechanism for reporting suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, in 2014 (para. 5c,e)
The Committee is concerned at reports that minors are not separated from adults in police stations and that male guards in police stations may be guarding female detainees after their arrest. (para 22)
The Committee recommends the State part to ensure that minors are not held with adults in police stations and that arrested women and girls are guarded only by female guards in all places of detention, including police stations. (para. 23e)
Last Reported: 11 and 12 May 2011
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Violence against women: The Committee notes with concern numerous allegations on violence against women and domestic violence, on which the State party has not provided information. The Committee is concerned at the absence of a specific law on domestic violence, as well as the lack of statistical information on the overall complaints of domestic violence reported and the number of investigations, convictions and punishments meted out. (arts. 2 and 16)
The Committee calls upon the State party to: (a) Enact, as a matter of urgency, legislation to prevent, combat and criminalise violence against women, including domestic violence; (b) Carry out research and data collection on the extent of domestic violence, and provide the Committee with statistical data on complaints, prosecutions and sentences; (c) Organise the participation of its public officials in rehabilitation and legal assistance programmes and to conduct broad awareness campaigns for officials such as judges, law officers, law enforcement agents and welfare workers, who are in direct contact with victims. The population at large should be made aware of those programmes. (Para. 23)
Last reported: 11 February 2016
Concluding observations issued: 19 September 2017
Concerns and recommendations
Persons in an irregular situation — stateless persons (Bidoon)
The Committee remains deeply concerned by the situation of Bidoon, many of whom have lived in Kuwait for generations but are deemed “illegal residents” by the State party. It expresses serious concern at persistent reports that Bidoon do not enjoy equal access to social services, due process and legally valid civil documentation, including birth registration documents (arts. 2, 5 and 6) (para. 27).
In the light of its general recommendation No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, the Committee recommends that the State party guarantee access for all to adequate social services and education on an equal footing with nationals of Kuwait, and provide in its next periodic report information on access to primary, secondary and tertiary education (para. 28).
While noting the State party’s position regarding the sovereign nature of nationality issues, the Committee remains concerned that the Nationality Act does not allow Kuwaiti women who marry foreigners to pass on their nationality to their children and spouses on an equal footing with Kuwaiti men (arts. 2 and 5) (para 31).
The Committee reiterates its recommendation (see CERD/C/KWT/15-20, para. 18) that the State party modify the Nationality Act to allow Kuwaiti women married to foreigners to pass on their nationality to their children and spouses on an equal footing with Kuwaiti men (para 32).
Last Reported: 16 and 17 February 2012 Concluding Observations issued: 4 April 2012
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Stateless persons: The Committee is concerned about the situation of the Bedoun (stateless persons), some of whom have lived in Kuwait for a long time, have a strong claim to nationality, have a genuine and effective link to the State or have served or serve in the police, army and other State institutions, as well as with the situation of children born in Kuwait to foreigners and stateless persons. While taking note that a Roadmap has been drawn up and that the Central Bureau for Illegal Residents will submit two lists of candidates for naturalization to the Cabinet, the Committee is concerned at the low rate of naturalizations and in particular by the situation of the unregistered Bedoun who do not have security cards. The Committee is also concerned that not all Bedoun enjoy some basic human rights such as the right to obtain civil documentation, as well as access to adequate social services, education, housing, property, business registration and employment. It is also concerned that they are not always able to return to Kuwait, in contravention of the right to freedom of movement. (arts. 2, 5 and 6) (Para 17)
In light of its general recommendation No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, the Committee recommends that the State party implement the existing Roadmap and provide a just, humane and comprehensive solution to the situation of the Bedoun, with respect for their dignity. The Joint Committee on the Granting of Kuwaiti Nationality should consider naturalizing the Bedoun, in particular persons who have lived in Kuwait for a long time, who can prove a genuine and effective link to the State, or have served or serve in the police, army and other State institutions, as well as children born in Kuwait of foreigners and stateless persons. The State party should consider providing residence permits and temporary legal status to non-citizens, including the unregistered Bedoun who do not have security cards. The Committee recommends that the State party issue civil documents to all persons in its territory and provide access to adequate social services, education, housing, property, business registration and employment to the Bedoun. It recommends that the State party ensure that the Bedoun enjoy the right to freedom of movement and are able to return to Kuwait.
Nationality: The Committee is concerned that current legislation does not allow Kuwaiti women who marry foreigners to pass on their nationality to their children and spouses on an equal footing with Kuwaiti men. Recalling its general recommendations No. 25 (2000) on gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination, No. 29 (2002) on descent and No. 30 (2004), the Committee recommends that the State party enact amendments to the Nationality Act that would allow Kuwaiti women married to foreigners to pass on their nationality to their children and spouses on an equal footing with Kuwaiti men. (arts. 2 and 5) (Para 18)
Refugees: The Committee is concerned that refugees recognized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and asylum-seekers who are unable to regulate their status in accordance with the current legal framework regulating the employment of foreigners and the sponsorship system remain without legal residence in the country. It is also concerned that the Ministry of the Interior has reinstated the daily overstay fines for refugees not lawfully staying in Kuwait. The Committee is also concerned that refugees recognized under UNHCR’s mandate cannot avail themselves of basic rights, including health services and education for refugee children because of their lack of regularized status.
In light of its general recommendations No. 22 (1996) on article 5 and on refugees and displaced persons and No. 30 (2004), the Committee recommends that the State party provide legal residence in the country to refugees recognized by UNHCR and asylum-seekers in accordance with the legal framework regulating the employment of foreigners. It also recommends that the Ministry of the Interior annul the daily overstay fines for refugees not lawfully staying in Kuwait as a gesture of support towards them and UNHCR. The Committee recommends that the State party regularize the status of refugees recognized under UNHCR’s mandate so that they can avail themselves of basic rights, including health services and education for refugee children. (arts. 5 and 7) (Para. 20)
Education: The Committee is concerned that not all Bedouin children are covered by free compulsory primary education, including by the charitable fund. The Committee recommends that the State party implement free compulsory primary education to all children in its territory and make available and accessible secondary education to the greatest extent possible. (art. 5) (Para. 21)
Last Reported: 15 and 16 March 1999
No mention of children's rights in this report.