UN urges action on rights for women

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The United Nations has criticised Kuwait's record on human rights and is urging an end to its discrimination against women and more than 100,000 stateless Arabs.

The United Nations has criticised Kuwait's record on human rights and is urging an end to its discrimination against women and more than 100,000 stateless Arabs.

The New York-based organisation Human Rights Watch issued a statement yesterday backing the conclusions of the first United Nations review of Kuwaiti action on one of the main international treaties enshrining human rights, which the Gulf state signed in 1996.

Although Kuwait has the only legislature among the Gulf monarchies, women still do not have the right to vote or run for office. Last year the all-male parliament voted down proposals by liberal MPs to grant women their political rights.

Human Rights Watch said Kuwaiti laws should be amended in order to ensure "women's full enjoyment in practice of their rights", and to "protect free expression". The organisation also called on Kuwait to end discrimination against the minority stateless Bidoon, who have lived in Kuwait for decades without being able to become citizens.

The government claims most of them have hidden their passports from other countries to try to claim nationality and benefit from the country's generous welfare system.

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