MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Lebanese man suspected in the death of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait has been arrested, the Philippine foreign secretary said Friday.
Alan Peter Cayetano said he has told President Rodrigo Duterte about the arrest in Lebanon of Nader Essam Assaf but added that Assaf’s Syrian wife, who is also a suspect in the death of Joanna Demafelis, remains at large.
The discovery of Demafelis’s body on Feb. 6 in the apartment in Kuwait City, where it had reportedly been kept for more than a year, sparked outrage and refocused attention on the tragic plight of poor Filipinas toiling mostly as maids abroad. It prompted Duterte to ban the deployment of new Filipino workers to Kuwait, where many abuses have been reported.
Assaf and his wife employed Demafelis. Duterte and other officials have asked Kuwaiti authorities to hunt for the couple.
“Assaf’s arrest is a critical first step in our quest for justice for Joanna and we are thankful to our friends in Kuwait and Lebanon for their assistance,” Cayetano said in a statement, adding that he expects Kuwait will seek Assaf’s extradition.
After attending Demafelis’s wake on Thursday in her hometown of Sara in the central Philippines, Duterte told reporters the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait would continue and could be expanded to other countries.
Duterte said Demafelis’s body bore torture marks and signs that she was strangled. He said the government is conducting an assessment to “find out the places where we deploy Filipinos and our countrymen suffer brutal treatment and human degradation.”
The Philippines is a major labor exporter with about a tenth of its more than 100 million people working abroad. The workers have been called national heroes because the income they send home sustains the Southeast Asian nation’s economy, accounting for about 10 percent of its annual gross domestic product.
Philippine officials are under increasing pressure to do more to monitor the safety of the workers, who are mostly maids, construction workers and laborers.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told a Senate hearing that he recalled three labor officers from Kuwait to be investigated over their failure to act on a request by Demafelis’s family for help after she went missing in January last year, he said.
Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration reported at least 196 Filipinos had died in Kuwait in the last two years, mostly for unspecified medical reasons but also four from suicide.
Monitoring their wellbeing is difficult due to the sheer numbers of workers but also by improper documentation. Nearly 11,000 of the more than 252,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait are there illegally or are not properly authorized.
KARACHI: China has been quietly holding talks with Baloch militants for more than five years in an effort to protect the $60 billion worth of infrastructure projects it is financing as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Financial Times claimed on Monday.
Three people with knowledge of the talks told the paper that Beijing had been in direct contact with militants in Balochistan, where many of the CPEC-related schemes are located.
“The Chinese have quietly made a lot of progress,” one Pakistani official told Financial Times. “Even though separatists occasionally try to carry out the odd attack, they are not making a forceful push.”
For more than half a century, Beijing has maintained a policy of non-interference in the domestic politics of other countries. But that has been tested by its desire to protect the billions of dollars it is investing around the world under its Belt and Road Initiative to create a “new Silk Road” of trade routes in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Pakistani officials welcome negotiations between Beijing and insurgents
As it seeks to boost the Chinese economy, China’s plans for the new Silk Road has pitched it into some of the world’s most complex conflict zones.
Chinese peacekeepers are already in South Sudan, where Beijing has invested in oilfields and is planning to build a rail line. China has also contributed troops to a UN peacekeeping operation in Mali and even talked about launching attacks against the militant Islamic State group in Iraq, where it has been the largest foreign investor in the country’s oil sector.
In Pakistan, Beijing appears keen to fill the void left by Washington, which has drifted from its former ally after becoming frustrated at Islamabad’s failure to tackle extremism.
Some have warned that China’s investment could lead to Pakistan being treated like a client state by Beijing, despite promises that Chinese troops would not be stationed there.
The paper claimed that the Pakistani officials welcomed the talks between Baloch rebels and Chinese envoys, even if they do not know the details of what has been discussed.
“Ultimately, if there’s peace in Balochistan, that will benefit both of us,” said one official in Islamabad.
Another said that the recent decision by the US to suspend security assistance to Pakistan had convinced many in Islamabad that China was a more genuine partner.
“[The Chinese] are here to stay and help Pakistan, unlike the Americans, who cannot be trusted,” the official said.
Chinese officials did not comment on the talks, though the Chinese ambassador to Islamabad said in a recent interview with the BBC that militants in Balochistan were no longer a threat to the economic corridor.
One provincial tribal leader said many young men had been persuaded to lay down their weapons by the promise of financial benefits.
“Today, young men are not getting attracted to join the insurgents as they did some 10 years ago,” he said. “Many people see prosperity” as a result of the CPEC, he added.
Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2018
KUWAIT CITY, Feb 14, (Agencies): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah congratulated the Iraqi people on victory achieved and that led to the defeat of the so-called Islamic State (IS) and banishing it from most of its soil. His Highness’ remark came during the official inauguration of the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq (KICRI) on Wednesday.
The significant level of participation in this Conference, either government, civil or private, came as a global recognition of the magnitude of sacrifices by Iraq in its fight against terrorism, His Highness noted, pointing out that the international community sough to reward these sacrifices that turned lives of Iraqis in IS-controlled areas into a “living hell”.
Results of this Conference are a continuation of all “our” efforts, His Highness said. “Yet, we should not neglect the suffering of our brothers in Syria and Yemen due to the ongoing conflicts taking place there, but we are confident that we and the international community will support them as soon as security and stability are restored.” His Highness added that the magnitude of destruction inflicted on Iraq by terrorist groups could not be overlooked, which requires Iraq to embark on an inclusive reconstruction process that would cover infrastructure and other public utilities; a task that cannot be endured by Iraq alone, and a matter that urged “us” to call on the international community to partake and shoulder its responsibility.
“In light of our realization of such consequences, we considered the vital role of the private sector in reinvigorating the investment environment in Iraq. Last night, more than 2,000 businesses from the private sector came to examine investment opportunities in Iraq. Also, non-governmental organizations contributed in lessening suffering of the Iraqi people.” His Highness, during the speech, extended appreciation to Iraq, the United Nations, the European Union and the World Bank, all as co-chairs of KICRI, along with the host country. His Highness concluded by announcing a $1 billion in loans to Iraq through Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, as well as another $1 billion in investments in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said Wednesday that total contributions by countries participating in Kuwait International Conference on Reconstruction of Iraq (KICRI) reached $30 billion. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said, in his speech at the closing session of ministerial meeting, that this amount came as result of a broad momentum that came from 76 participating countries, along with 51 international development funds, 107 local and international NGOs, in addition to 1,850 representatives from the private sector.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Al-Maatouq, chairman of the International Islamic Charity Organization (IICO) said the number of pledges at the NGO Conference to Support the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq has reached $337 million. Al-Maatouq, made this announcement in his capacity as a representative of the NGO meetings at the closing session of the Ministerial Meeting of KICRI, during which he reviewed the results of NGOs conference. Al-Maatouq added that these pledges will be in accordance with humanitarian and development programs in Iraq, especially in areas affected by armed conflicts there, which will be distributed in the areas of health, housing, education, rehabilitation and other humanitarian fields. IICO chief noted that participants from all parties stressed importance on the need to respond to the humanitarian situation in the areas affected by the armed conflicts and on establishing a mechanism to follow up on the execution of these programs through periodic meetings and follow-up reports.
On another front, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) Abdulwahab Al-Bader said that the estimated amount needed for Iraq’s reconstruction is estimated at $88 billion, adding that the current estimated losses due to war in Iraq has reached $46 billion. Al-Bader said, as a representative of the private sector meetings in the closing session, that the “high-level experts meeting for the reconstruction of Iraq and the role of financial institutions” was held in the presence of about 420 individuals from various financial institutions, investment companies from different countries around the world. Al-Bader added participants underlined the importance of supporting reform programs in Iraq, for the purpose of reconstruction, in addition to enhancing the social aspect in different regions of Iraq, and to brief various development institutions on the reconstruction process.
Finally, the President of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Abdulwahab Al-Wazan said that Kuwait’s private sector position coincide precisely with the State of Kuwait position in supporting Iraq. Al-Wazan added such position by KCCI would also contribute to efforts exerted for developmental projects in Iraq to the point of reaching a comprehensive viable developmental partnership based on good neighboring and joint interests. KCCI chief added that the private sector is cooperating with the Iraqi side, which he described the role as permanent and continuous, and will not end when the conference ends, but will continue with investment projects. KICRI kicked off last Monday and concluded today with participating countries, regional and international organizations.
The biggest pledge at the gathering in Kuwait came from Turkey, which announced $5 billion in credit to Iraq. Qatar, which is embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with a quartet of Arab nations led by Riyadh, pledged $1 billion. The United Arab Emirates pledged $500 million, as did the Islamic Development Bank. Germany pledged 500 million euros ($617 million) and the European Union 400 million euros ($494 million).
The United States, which has been embroiled in Iraq since its 2003 invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, did not directly give at the conference Wednesday in Kuwait City. However, it plans to offer over $3 billion in loans and other financing to help American firms invest in Iraq. Kuwait’s donation particularly was in many ways stunning as only a generation ago, Saddam Hussein invaded the country.
The donation by HH the Amir showed the deep interest his nation has in making sure Iraq becomes a peaceful, stable country after the war against IS. Iraq also still owes Kuwait reparations from Saddam’s 1990 invasion that sparked the 1991 US-led Gulf War. Of the money needed, Iraqi officials estimate that $17 billion alone needs to go toward rebuilding homes, the biggest single line item offered Monday, on the first day of meetings. The United Nations estimates 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt in Mosul alone.
The war against the Islamic State group displaced more than 5 million people in Iraq, only half of whom have returned to their hometowns. However, officials acknowledge a feeling of fatigue from international donors, especially after the wars in Iraq and Syria sparked the biggest mass migration since World War II. Iraq also is OPEC’s second-largest crude producer and home to the world’s fifth-largest known reserves, though it has struggled to pay international firms running them. The United States under President Donald Trump also seems uninterested in directly investing in Iraq’s reconstruction.
The US alone spent $60 billion over nine years — some $15 million a day — to rebuild Iraq. Around $25 billion went to Iraq’s military, which disintegrated during the lightning 2014 offensive of the Islamic State group, which grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq. US government auditors also found massive waste and corruption, fueling suspicions of Western politicians like Trump who want to scale back foreign aid. Meanwhile, regional tensions may affect how spending comes. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended the meeting, but skipped a group photograph held before. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations attending Wednesday’s conference remain suspicious of Iran’s influence in Iraq, as well as its gains following the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Qatar, meanwhile, remains boycotted by four Arab nations, including three in the Gulf, which has split the typically clubby relations among the nations. For his part, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged all his country’s neighbors to contribute. “We need to rely on all our neighbors and friends to help Iraq invest in its future,” he said.
KUWAIT CITY, Feb 12: The Criminal Court has sentenced an unidentified lawyer to four years imprisonment with hard labor for forging official papers, reports Al-Anba daily. However, the court ordered the attorney to pay KD 1,000 to suspend the sentence. In the same case, the court acquitted two other lawyers citing lack of evidence. The case was filed by attorney Ibtisam Al-Enezi accusing the main accused of falsifying a proxy in collusion with two other lawyers based on which the court had ordered her husband to pay KD 4 million in an unknown case.
Federation wants meeting with Investigations Dept
KUWAIT CITY, Feb 6: A number of insurance companies expressed concern over the enforcement of the decision of Ministry of Interior to activate Article No. 41 of the Traffic Law which allows issuance of reconciliation order for minor traffic accidents, reports Al- Rai daily.
The decision will be enforced from March 2018 in Capital Governorate first on experimental basis. After evaluating the experience, the decision will be implemented in rest of Kuwait. In an earlier press release, Director of General Investment Department Major General Dr Fahd Al-Dousari explained that the reconciliation order forms will be distributed to all patrol teams and police stations.
The victim of a traffic accident should fill a reconciliation order form with all necessary details including the money he deserves to receive.
He should then go to the insurance company, and the latter is obligated to refund the money to him immediately.
The victim has to pay KD 20 to the Traffic Violations Department before he receives a copy of the reconciliation order.
In this regard, Kuwait Insurance Federation stressed the need to hold a meeting with the Investigations Department to discuss the matter and offer suggestions.
Manager of Professional Insurance Company Mohammad Al-Zanati said the decision came as a major blow to the insurance companies, as it will result in them bearing huge losses.
He suggested increasing the value of insurance policy for vehicles to from KD 19 to KD 30 for a sedan car, as this will enable the companies to provide the necessary cash especially with the increasing number of traffic accidents.
Manager of Dar Al-Salaam Insurance Company Mayadah Al-Ali explained that car owners will be happy about this decision as it will enable them to receive compensation within few days.
However, the decision will create a big problem for insurance companies especially since those who cause the traffic accidents will not contribute to the payment of compensation. She suggested the payment of compensation to be shared on fifty-fifty basis by the insurance company and the individual responsible for the traffic accident.
In addition, Manager of Kuwait International Insurance Company Mohammad Al-Rashda explained that there are 27 national insurance companies along with six Arab and four foreign insurance companies in Kuwait.
These companies issued a total of 1,275,399 insurance documents for KD 19,436,280. They paid compensations worth KD 20.284 million along with some compensations worth about KD 43 million which were not paid in the last few years. Al-Rashda suggested increasing the insurance value from KD 19 to KD 30.
KUWAIT CITY, Feb 7: Technical Supervision Department Director and Head of the Rationalization Campaign in the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) Eng Iqbal Al-Tayar has called on parents to prevent their children from buying water guns to celebrate the national holidays, reports Al-Anba daily. Al-Tayar made the appeal on the sideline of the awareness campaign.
KUWAIT CITY, Feb 7: Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Passport Affairs Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah announced the approval of rectification of legal status of domestic workers who are in violation of the residency laws, provided they pay fines for absconding from their workplaces. The approval comes with a condition that restricts them from transferring their residency for a period of one year from the date of approval of the rectification of their status.
In a press statement, Major General Al-Jarrah clarified that the decision to approve rectification of the residency status of domestic workers was taken due to increasing requests from citizens to reconsider the conditions of those who absconded from their sponsors and their desire to pay the relevant fines without having to leave the country. He called upon citizens who wish to lift the absconding cases filed against their domestic workers to visit the Department of Residency Affairs in the respective governorates where necessary measures will be taken in this regard.
Source: Arab Times