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MPs take action for Baha’i rights

KUWAIT CITY, July 5: Backing their initiative with the Constitution, MPs Ahmed Al-Fadel and Khaled Al-Shatti submitted a proposal to cancel Article 39 of Ministerial Decree 66/1966 which prohibits certification of marriage within the Baha’i faith.

The MPs argued that the State must allow followers of Baha’i faith to authenticate their marriage certificates and be acknowledged by the authorities as per the Constitution, which is the foundation of Kuwaiti democracy and was enacted to safeguard integrity of the country and rights of the people.

They cited articles seven and eight of the Constitution stipulating: “Justice, freedom and equality are the pillars of society; and cooperation and compassion are firm links binding all citizens. The State shall preserve the pillars of society and guarantee security, tranquility and equal opportunities for all citizens.”

They added Article 29 states that “people are equal in human dignity. In the eyes of the law, they have equal public rights and obligations. There shall be no discrimination between them because of race, origin, language or religion.” The MPs argued Article 39 of Ministerial Decree 66/1966 contravenes the Constitution; hence, it should be cancelled because human rights and equality must be upheld, considering some followers of Baha’i faith are Kuwaitis.

A Kuwaiti follower of Baha’i faith told the Arab Times that authentication of marriage certificates is not the only difficulty they have to deal with; but also personal status cases in general, including probate inventories. Currently, the authentication of such certificates must be individually done in court as a case file, which usually takes up to six months to process. Since more than 500 Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis are following this faith, the MPs’ proposal has been well received.

In another development, MP Safaa Al-Hashem lauded the inauguration of the new Al-Jahra Medical City. However, she was disappointed after finding out that the facility requires 12,000 employees – technical and managerial – for the hospital to be fully functional as such a number of manpower is not readily available. She pointed out it would have been better if a contract was signed with a world leading hospital in the United Kingdom or the United States of America to train employees for one year before the inauguration to avoid delay in operations.

Although the MPs are happy to see completion of major projects such as the medical city and new airport terminal, they are putting political pressure on concerned authorities to improve the level of management and avoid falling behind in maintenance and development. Others such as MP Riyadh Al-Adsani is pressuring the government to prioritize nationals in the recruitment of workers for these new facilities.

Taking it a step further, MP Majed Al-Mutairi submitted a proposal to prioritize nationals, children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis and Bedouns in the recruitment of workers for newly inaugurated mega projects. He also suggested asking for help from international firms to train applicants in order to ensure that these new facilities will be fully operational upon inauguration.

By Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab-Times Staff

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