Kuwait deports 'hundreds' of expats for traffic offences

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Kuwait has deported hundreds of expats for traffic offences in the past month, a report said on Sunday, drawing condemnation from a human rights group.

The Al-Anbaa newspaper cited a senior interior ministry official as saying that as many as 1,258 foreigners have been deported for traffic violations since a crackdown began about a month ago.

Foreign residents caught driving without a licence, using their cars to carry paying passengers, jumping a red light for a second time, or breaking the speed limit by more than 40 kilometres per hour, can be deported without a court order.

The Kuwait Society for Human Rights called on the government to halt the deportations describing them as "oppressive".

"The oppressive measure against expatriates... violates the basic principles of human rights," it said.

The group warned that the measure could tarnish the Gulf state's image abroad at a time when its human rights record is under scrutiny.

Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates who form 68 percent of the country's 3.8 million population.

Kuwaiti nationals who commit similar offences have their vehicles seized and can be sent to court.

Last month, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Thekra al-Rasheedi said the emirate plans to deport around 100,000 expatriates every year for the next decade to reduce the number of foreigners living in the Gulf state by one million.

She did not say what measures she would adopt to carry out the plan.

Foreigners need to hold a university degree, earn 400 dinars (S$1,757) a month and have lived in Kuwait for at least two years to be eligible to apply for a driver's licence, under a decision issued nearly a decade ago.

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