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JUDICIAL INROAD OVER CITIZENSHIP REJECTED – Proposal for 2,000 naturalizations in 2017 turned down

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MPs keep nationality with executive

MPs raise their hands to vote on an issue in Tuesday’s National Assembly session

KUWAIT CITY, April 11: The Parliament, in its regular session on Tuesday, rejected the report of the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee about the bills on establishing an administrative circuit in charge of nationality issues at the High Court. Thirty six members voted against the report while 27 voted in favor so these bills will be removed from the Parliament’s agenda.

State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mubarak confirmed that the government rejected the proposal after looking into the committee’s report which gave the Administrative Court control over decisions on withdrawal, dropping or loss of nationality.

He said the government found the committee’s opinion to be contradictory to the principle of sovereignty, Nationality Law and Judiciary Regulation laws; in addition to eliminating the principles established by the cassation circuits in the Administrative Court. He stressed citizenship is considered a “national identity associated with statehood for identification of the people of Kuwait.

The State of Kuwait, as a sovereign country, should handle nationality-related decisions as well as establishing legal and political leagues to determine rights and obligations in accordance with national standards.” He explained sovereignty protects the State’s pillars (territory, power and people) taking into consideration that the Jurisprudence and Administrative courts defined sovereignty as one of the acts of the executive branch in its capacity as governing authority, not administrative authority which was also confirmed by the Constitutional Court in case number 2/1999 so sovereignty has immunity against judicial oversight. He stated that decisions related to citizenship such as granting, withdrawal or dropping nationality must be in the hands of the State represented by the executive branch, away from judicial control.

According to the committee’s report, the first article of the amendment law – fifth clause of Article One in Decree 20/1990 will be replaced with a text that removes exception relating to nationality issues so decisions concerning nationality should be under the jurisdiction of the court, like all other administrative decisions. The first bill also stipulates in its second article adding a paragraph in Article Two of law number 23/1990 on the regulation of Judiciary Law which states that issues related to withdrawal, dropping or losing the Kuwaiti nationality within the meaning of sovereignty shall not be considered by the courts in accordance with the text of the article. The text of the second bill in its first article stipulates replacing the text of Item Five in Article One of Decree 20/1990 confirming that decisions on nationality are under the jurisdiction of the court.

The third bill stipulates in its second article replacing the text in Item Five of Article One in Decree 20/1981 with a text removing the exemption of nationality issues from the jurisdiction of the court. It also states that anybody whose nationality was withdrawn or dropped, or sent out of the country after withdrawal of his nationality before the promulgation of the law, may apply for cancellation of the decision within 60 days from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.

The fourth bill in its first article stipulates replacing the text of Item Five in Article One of Decree 20/1990 with a text removing exemption of decisions on worship places from the jurisdiction of the court. The fifth bill stipulates in its first article replacing the text of Item Five in Article One of Decree 20/1981 with a text excluding final administrative decisions on granting nationality and residency as well as deporting non-Kuwaitis and worship places from the jurisdiction of the court; thus, giving the court power to look into decisions on withdrawal and dropping nationality.

In the earlier part of Tuesday’s session, the Parliament rejected the request of the Public Prosecution to lift the immunity of MP Mohamed Hayef al-Mutairi on misdemeanor electronic (cyber) crimes with 24 votes against while 22 out of 46 attendees approved the request. Meanwhile, the Parliament approved another letter from Human Rights Committee Chairman MP Adel Al-Damkhi requesting for a period of three months to submit its report on investigations into the extent of applying international agreements, laws and procedures relating to the status of inmates in cooperation with the ministries of Justice, Health, Social Affairs, Labor and Interior. The Parliament also agreed to withdraw the letter of Al-Damkhi requesting approval of a mandate for the committee to prepare a report on the general human rights situation in Kuwait in cooperation with civil society institutions. The Parliament previously asked the committee to specify human rights topics that necessitate preparation of reports.

This came after First Deputy Premier and Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah described the letter of the committee chairman as “skyline with no range.” He went on to say the general human rights situation is now the concern of the entire society, wondering “how they will give mandate to something like a skyline with no range.” He added the government needs up to two years to prepare the national report of the State of Kuwait at the Human Rights Council with the participation of 15 governmental bodies and civil society institutions in order to identify everything related to human rights. He clarified Kuwait’s report at the council is only a part of the general human rights situation. “If this part takes such a long time, we cannot approve this request. Therefore, the request must be stated in the letter, but it will be very difficult to leave the subject of general human rights situation open.” He reiterated the letter contains a “vague request” while calling on the National Assembly to specify what is research for the request to be clear “because it is like skyline without range.” He affirmed, “We are ready to cooperate with the committee.”

In another development, two grilling requests against HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah were presented following the rejection of bills on establishing an administrative circuit to deal with nationality issues in the High Court — one by MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Marzouq Al-Khalifa and Mohammed Al-Mutair and the other by MPs Riyadh Al-Adsani and Shuaib Al-Muwaizri. Furthermore, the Parliament on Tuesday rejected the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee’s report on the general amnesty bill with 41 votes against and 20 in favor. The bill has been deleted from the agenda of the Parliament.

Reading the government’s statement on the issue, Justice Minister Dr Faleh Al-Azeb said HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, by decree, has the right to pardon or reduce punishment and this is called special amnesty because general amnesty is granted only after disasters similar to what happened in Lebanon after the war. He pointed out that what they have now from the committee is a special amnesty presented as a general amnesty which is considered a constitutional violation. Committee Rapporteur MP Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei called for withdrawing the report for further cooperation if the Parliament allows it, but the discussion went on with two in favor and two against. Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim adjourned the session for 30 minutes when MPs Al- Humaidi Al-Subaie and Faisal Al-Kandari on one hand and Adel Al-Damkhi and Hamad al-Harshani clashed during discussion of the report of the Interior and Defense Committee on amending the Election Law that bans offenders (breach of honor and trust) from holding or participating in elections.

In another development, the Kuwaiti government has refused a proposal by the parliament to grant Kuwaiti citizenship to at least 2,000 stateless people in 2017; however, it said it would consider naturalising those who can trace their Kuwait roots to 1965 without specifying the number of people who would benefit from the process. It is very difficult to grant Kuwaiti citizenship to 2,000 stateless people all at once, the government told the Interior and Defence Committee at the parliament, Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reported on Monday.

The government said it could not guarantee it would be able to accommodate all requests for naturalisation. Kuwait has been looking into ways to address the issue of the approximately 105,000 stateless residents who have been seeking Kuwaiti citizenship, as well as civil and social rights. Stateless people claim they are the descendants of nomads who roamed the area but never asked for citizenship when Kuwait became independent in 1961. They are mostly Arabs or descendants of Arabs who moved to Kuwait following the discovery of oil and deliberately got rid of their original passports to seek citizenship in the rich country that offered huge benefits to its citizens.


By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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