Following a meeting between officials from the two countries, the four drivers involved were released and the charges against them were dropped.  The agreement comes after a bitter conflict that led to a ban on Filipino workers in the Gulf state. Relations between the two countries became more tense when a video showing operations by Philippine embassy officials allegedly rescuing Filipino maids from allegedly abusive employers emerged. The operation, carried out on 21 April 2018, was regarded by Kuwait as a “blatant” violation of its sovereignty. Philippine diplomats insist the operations were not secret.  Two embassy officials allegedly encouraged Filipino workers to leave their employers.  The conflict between the two nations reached new heights in April, when Kuwait denounced the Philippine ambassador over a video showing embassy members allegedly being abused by their employers. The agreement also includes the repatriation of OFWs to emergency shelters and requesters for assistance, the activation of a 24/7 emergency call number for sea doctors in need and the creation of a special police unit to assist the Philippine Embassy in rescue operations. KUWAIT CITY, February 3: Kuwait and the Philippines on Monday signed an agreement on the proposed harmonized standard employment contract for Filipino domestic workers (HSW) sent to Kuwait, which concluded the two-day meeting of the Joint Committee of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of Kuwaiti and Philippine Companies.
On 6 March, Mr. Duterte laid down two conditions for the lifting of the ban on working in Kuwait; the signing of an agreement on labour policy between Kuwait and the Philippines, and “justice” in relation to the death of Joanna Demafelis.  On 16 March, a draft agreement was drawn up by officials from both countries and was due to be signed in Kuwait in two weeks.  A diplomatic crisis began between Kuwait and the Philippines when the murder of Joanna Demafelis, a Filipino domestic worker working in Kuwait, was made public in 2018. The signing took place amid the diplomatic dispute between the two countries. Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa has been declared “persona non grata” for the rescue of OFWs abused by the embassy. A copy of the agreement, which is available to AFP, says workers are allowed to keep their passports and mobile phones, often confiscated by employers. In mid-January, the Philippines again imposed a work ban on its citizens in Kuwait after a Filipino maid was reportedly killed by their employer, indicating a dispute between the two countries in 2018. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved the ban, with his government accusing the emirate of concealing the atrocious murder of a maid, one of some 240,000 Filipinos working in the Gulf state. Millions of Filipino citizens go abroad to work in search of wages they cannot get at home. The money they return represents about 10% of the Philippine economy.
Kuwait is not the only Gulf state to be accused of routine sexual abuse of domestic workers. In November, Bangladesh hired more than 150 recruitment agencies that hire people to work in Saudi Arabia, after a number of returnees reportedly faced sexual abuse, torture and even sexual slavery in the kingdom. Similar abuses have also been reported in the United Arab Emirates, which Human Rights Watch randomly took in 2014 because of widespread abuse of domestic workers. The United Arab Emirates has about 750,000 domestic workers who, according to official statistics, account for nearly 20% of the foreign workforce.