WE may reluctantly understand the decisions taken by the Ministry of Health concerning the isolation of certain areas and stifling of most commercial facilities of the private sector, even though they contradict the actions taken by the neighboring countries where the living conditions are similar to ours such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf countries.
However, it remains incomprehensible and unjustified for the government, particularly the Ministry of Interior, to prevent citizens from traveling abroad except under strict conditions that are nearly impossible to meet.
Despite the conditions set for those who would want to travel, more than 2,500 citizens had applied for travel approval since last week. However, the Ministry of Interior is currently capable of vetting only ten applications per day, despite the fact that the decision governing this issue is irrational and unconstitutional.
So I beg to ask – What is the business of the government with respect to a citizen who wishes to travel abroad especially since citizens have been travelling overseas during this time throughout their lives?
It would be sufficient for our rational government to take declaration from such a citizen to acknowledge that the government will not bear responsibility in case he or she contracts COVID-19 while abroad.
Here we would like to point out to our rational government that insurance companies have now released new insurance policies that specifically cover the treatment expenses if the beneficiary contracts COVID-19 while abroad.
Therefore, we cannot comprehend why the government is poking its nose in this matter and wasting its time and the time of the citizens in terms of the vetting process which is limited to travelling for either studies or medical treatment – at the expense of the patient, of course – or to visit a property they own overseas.
Such a decision reminded us of the earlier-issued ridiculous decision that allowed people to leave their houses and go to their chalets, farms and rest houses on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr despite the total lockdown implemented in the country.
Nonetheless, these decisions are in violation of the highest constitutional texts, such as Article No. 28 which stipulates that, “No Kuwaiti may be deported from Kuwait or prevented from returning thereto”. This is with reference to our government’s decision to prevent Kuwaitis from traveling except under certain conditions that stipulate those who receive travel approval will not be allowed to return in less than a month after leaving Kuwait.
Furthermore, these decisions violate Article No. 30 of the Kuwait Constitution, which states “Personal freedom is guaranteed”. In this case, the clearest example of personal freedom is the freedom to travel, something that the government does not guarantee through its irrational decision in this regard.
These decisions also violate Article No. 31 of the Constitution which stipulates that, “No person shall be arrested, detained, searched, or compelled to reside in a specified place, nor shall the residence of any person or his liberty to choose his place of residence or his liberty of movement be restricted, except in accordance with the provisions of the law”. Is there more restriction on the freedom of movement for citizens than the decisions that prevent them from travelling unless they meet the government’s prohibitive conditions?
We therefore ask our esteemed government and the representatives of the people – members of the National Assembly – to reconsider such unheard-of decisions that violate the most important articles of the Kuwait Constitution.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil