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MP proposes Saudi-style terror law - Up to 30 years jail for jihadists

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 9: MP Nabeel Al-Fadhl on Sunday proposed a draft law that would impose jail terms of up to 30 years on Kuwaiti jihadists fighting abroad, nearly a week after Saudi Arabia introduced similar penalties. The bill, submitted by pro-government legislator Al-Fadhl, stipulates jail terms of between five and 20 years for Kuwaitis who travel abroad to fight, as well as those who encourage or support such activities in any way.

The same penalty would apply to members of religious and extremist groups that have been classified as “terrorist” locally, regionally or by Arab countries, the draft legislation says. Al-Fadhl, a strong critic of Islamist groups, said in his proposal the penalty will become between 10 and 30 years in jail if the convicts are members of the army, national guard or police.

The proposal must be passed by parliament, which is dominated by pro-government MPs but also includes several Islamists, and then accepted by the government to become law.

Local media reported a number of Kuwaitis have travelled to Syria to fight in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Last week, Saudi King Abdullah issued a decree stipulating up to 20 years in jail for Saudis who are members of “terrorist groups” and join fighting abroad.

Meanwhile, a number of MPs have firmly rejected the Gulf Security Agreement as it allegedly violates the Constitution and contains several ambiguous points. MP Adnan AbdulSamad asserted the agreement contravenes the Constitution as confirmed by the constitutional experts who support the lawmakers’ claim.

Disclosing that he and MP Khaleel Abdullah will submit a report on the agreement in the near future, AbdulSamad said Kuwait is the only country which rejected the agreement when it was first discussed in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He wondered why the government changed its view as it is now pushing for the approval of the agreement — a move he considers an insult to the Parliament because it is tantamount to endorsing a violation of the Constitution. He added the agreement is absolutely unacceptable since it is detrimental to people’s freedom.

Abdulsamad also warned Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman MP Ali Al- Rashid about the agreement’s approval, specifically the statement made by some of their colleagues and government officials that the agreement is necessary for national security and it does not violate the Constitution. He reminded the committee chairman that the constitutional experts have confirmed the violation. When asked about the chance of the issue being referred to the Constitutional Court, the MP said, “We should not get ahead of ourselves, and just hope that the Assembly will reject it.” On the same subject, MP Majed Al- Mutairi addressed the Foreign Affairs Committee saying, “Do not be in a hurry to present your report.” He confirmed his objection to the agreement as it contradicts the Constitution and it has a number of ambiguities.”

In a press conference, the MP said the Assembly will stand against anything which is not in accordance with the Constitution. He pointed out the legal and constitutional facts will decide the fate of this agreement. He added the State of Kuwait is not obligated to approve the agreement, indicating there are similar agreements between Kuwait and another country.

On the other hand, MP Yaqoub Al- Sane submitted a draft bill to add a new article to the State Penal Code to criminalize the practice of black magic, sorcery, voodoo and other similar activities. The new article stipulates that anyone convicted will be imprisoned for five years minimum and a fine of KD 20,000 minimum.

The lawmaker added that those proven to be importing, exporting, selling or possessing items and substances associated with the aforementioned activities will be sent to jail for a minimum of three years, in addition to a fine of KD 5,000 minimum.

Furthermore, MP Al-Sane clarified the ministries of Justice and Islamic Affairs will define the terminologies for these practices, as well as a cohesive database to classify and define the practices to be used as reference in dealing with such cases. In another development, Rapporteur of the Legislative Committee MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari confirmed the approval of a draft bill on the establishment of the Communications and Technology Authority; in addition to the Patient Rights Bill which was referred to the Health Committee. Also, the Child Rights Bill was approved and referred to the Education Committee; while discussion on the Medical Obligation Bill was postponed due to some errors.

This bill will be tabled for discussion immediately after its revision. The rapporteur also mentioned that the committee endorsed the proposed establishment of the Financial Supervisors Authority. He said the authority will be independent and will act in accordance with the instructions of the Cabinet.

A number of other proposals and draft bills were discussed but were not voted on due to the lack of information from the concerned authorities.

Meanwhile, the government revealed that it has submitted a number of bills to the Parliament in line with the evaluation of fiscal 2014/2015 by the concerned authorities. The Financial Committee will review these proposals before referring them to the Assembly for voting. The government also submitted reports on the expenditures of every ministry and the associated authorities, governmental institutions and the Central Bank of Kuwait to be evaluated by the committee. In the meantime, MP Kamel Al-Awadhi suggested the Ministry of Health and Public Institution for Social Security should use their financial surplus to provide a health insurance package for retired citizens, so they can avail medical services offered by private hospitals. He argued the retired citizens constitute eight percent of the population, and add pressure to the government in terms of healthcare.

Noting that his proposed health insurance for the retirees is not costly considering the high level of healthcare in private hospitals, Al-Awadhi asserted this will also decrease pressure on governmental hospitals. The MP went on to say the Ministry of Health’s budget is $4 billion — an average of $3,900 per citizen; while the total number of beds in governmental hospitals is 6,338 bed or an average of six beds per 1,000 citizens, compared to the international standard of one bed for every 15 citizens or 67 beds per 1,000 citizens.

By: Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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