WE congratulate Mr. Saleh Al-Fadhala for the renewal of this position as the Chairperson of the Central System for Remedying Status of Illegal Residents. We hope that he will work on resolving this issue, which has been saturated with studies and turned into a dilemma that troubles Kuwait in international forums, , as a result of deliberate government neglect. It also increases the burdens related to security and standard of living for a significant segment of people.
On this occasion, I remember the time when we went on a visit to India with a senior official who was heading a delegation. On the way back, I asked him while in the plane – “Why don’t you solve this Bedoun issue?”
At that time, it occupied the media headlines. In response, the official said, “These people want the same privileges given to Kuwaitis. I said it is possible to amend the law and naturalize them without granting them these privileges!”
There is no doubt that solving this issue has been possible since the 1960s, as their numbers did not exceed 10,000. Unfortunately, successive governments have been reluctant to properly tackle this issue. In several cases, the issue has been exploited by MPs to strengthen their electoral base. The issue was derailed by their opportunistic amendments to the law, while the executive authority settled on meeting the demands of the MPs in order to avoid any confrontation in this regard.
The amendments made to the citizenship law caused a major imbalance, as those who were naturalized would not enjoy nomination and election rights until after several years. There was the so-called “full-fat citizenship” and “fat-free citizenship” for a while, but today things have turned upside down in this regard.
We are talking about the news of those who acquired citizenship fraudulently. This issue is considered to be a time bomb, and we wonder for how long will it maintain its status quo.
Indeed, there is a group of fraudsters who have exploited certain loopholes in the law and obtained citizenship. These are known to the security services. The central apparatus of the Bedoun residents, according to what it announced, has files on everyone, and knows the origin of each one. Therefore, there are those who deserve naturalization, especially with the law that was passed in 2016 to grant citizenship to 4,000 people annually, but no one knows in which drawer of which official has that law been buried.
In addition, Kuwait needs manpower, which it brings from all over the world, and allows them to transfer their money to their countries. If the state ends the restrictions on this segment and opens the way for them to participate in the production cycle, they will spend what they earn in Kuwait, because they have no homeland other than Kuwait.
There are many irregularities that we face daily. For example, a Kuwaiti woman married to a non-Kuwaiti is prohibited from granting her nationality to her children and husband. There are people who are born and raised on this land, taught in the local schools, and did their best to excel in the country, but in the end they are told, “Go back to your countries because you are beyond the legal age”.
In fact, in all countries of the world, a mother is able to pass on her nationality to her children, except for some backward countries that are still outdated.
Despite everything, there remains a solution, which is that the government must take the initiative to tackle this impasse, and stop the polemics and electoral exploitation of this issue, which constitutes a disgrace to Kuwait at the international level.
It has also become necessary for Mr. Saleh Al-Fadhala, who has saturated this file with studies over the past years, to start developing solutions. Whoever has a nationality can address his home country and be deported to it. At the same time, he must prepare the necessary draft decrees for the naturalization of those who deserve it.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times