Assembly wrestles with MP jailings – Amendment of Municipality Law approved
KUWAIT CITY, Jan 10: The National Assembly, in its regular session Wednesday, approved the request of MPs for the Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee to expedite completion of reports — not later than 30 days — on two bills, one of which prohibits imprisoning MPs; while the other calls for continuous payment of social allowances to public and private sector employees dismissed from work unless a final court ruling is issued on their dismissal.
The Assembly took this decision after deliberating on the request of MPs about the constitutionality of imprisoning MPs involved in the legislative storming case. The request included a proposal to add a paragraph to Article 20 of Law No. 12/1963 on the internal regulations of the Assembly to ensure that lawmakers are not imprisoned unless a final judicial ruling is issued in this regard.
Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Dr Fahad Al-Afasi has affirmed that the government took steps concerning the MPs imprisoned for storming the legislative building in accordance with the Constitution, law and Public Prosecution procedures. He explained the case was forwarded to the judiciary and the immunity of the concerned MPs was lifted, so they became ordinary people under such circumstances. He pointed out the Public Prosecution is in charge of implementing judicial decisions, referring to the law on the organization of prisons as its articles affirm the importance of the prosecution’s confirmation of procedures concerning prisoners.
He argued that parliamentary immunity is of particular importance as the Constitution clearly regulates this, indicating Article 110 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of lawmakers to express ideas and opinions within the legislature. He added Article 111 of the Constitution states that procedural immunity is the protection of MPs in performing their role vis-à-vis the penal proceedings, asserting the Assembly’s bylaw also set out procedures regarding immunity. In another development, the Assembly approved on the same day the proposal to amend the Municipality Law No. 33/2016 in its first and second readings. During the session, the Assembly discussed the report of the Public Utilities Committee about the proposal.
Article One of the bill states that notwithstanding the provisions of the third paragraph of Article Four of Law No. 33/2016, the first election of the Municipal Council members shall take place after adopting this law in accordance with the final schedule of the election of lawmakers for the year 2017. This provision shall be deemed temporary and it shall end with the election of the Municipal Council members referred to above.
Article Two of the bill stipulates that Article Four of Law No. 33/2016 shall be replaced with the following: “Six members will be appointed through a decree within 15 days from the date of announcing the election results.” All members — elected and appointed — should meet the conditions for membership in the National Assembly, provided the appointed members in the preceding item of this article have university qualifications and each voter has the right to elect one of the candidates in his constituency.
Article Three states that the interim committee shall exercise the powers of the Municipal Council issued through Decree No. 241/2017 for four months from the date of ratifying this law or until the next Municipal Council election is held. Meanwhile, Minister of Public Works and State Minister for Municipality Affairs Hussam Al-Roumi thanked the committee for its cooperation in passing the bill and all members of the Assembly for understanding this amendment. He then affirmed commitment to issue a decree on constituencies, stressing the Municipal Council elections will be held as soon as possible.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff