Court re­stores cit­i­zen­ship of pro-op­po­si­tion TV owner MP files re­quest to grill jus­tice min­is­ter

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By B Iz­zak

KUWAIT: The ad­min­is­tra­tive lower court yes­ter­day or­dered the gov­ern­ment to re­store the cit­i­zen­ship of pro-op­po­si­tion Al-Youm tele­vi­sion owner Ahmad Jabr Al-Shem­mari, more than two years af­ter it was re­voked. In a land­mark rul­ing, the court also abol­ished the Amiri de­cree that with­drew the cit­i­zen­ship of Shem­mari and his four chil­dren, and or­dered the gov­ern­ment to re­turn the na­tion­al­ity to them “im­me­di­ately” with­out wait­ing for the rul­ings of the ap­peals and cas­sa­tion courts.

The court also or­dered the gov­ern­ment to pay KD 5,001 in tem­po­rary com­pen­sa­tion for Shem­mari, a ver­dict that could open the way for him to seek much larger dam­ages. Af­ter re­vok­ing his na­tion­al­ity in July 2014, the gov­ern­ment shut down Al-Youm tele­vi­sion and Alam Al-Youm news­pa­per, both owned by him, on the ba­sis that me­dia li­censes must be in the name of Kuwaiti cit­i­zens only.

The ver­dict came af­ter more than two years of a le­gal bat­tle in which the lower court ini­tially re­jected Shem­mari’s pe­ti­tion on the grounds that courts can­not look into na­tion­al­ity cases be­cause they are “sov­er­eign” is­sues. This ver­dict was up­held by the ap­peals court. But the court of cas­sa­tion, whose rul­ings are fi­nal, ear­lier this year ruled that courts can look into these is­sues and or­dered the lower court to hear the case again.

The rul­ing will also open the way for a large num­ber of op­po­si­tion fig­ures to re­sort to court, who were stripped of their cit­i­zen­ship amid a gov­ern­ment crack­down on the op­po­si­tion dur­ing a political cri­sis in the coun­try.

They in­clude for­mer Is­lamist MP Ab­dul­lah Al-Barghash and about 60 mem­bers of his fam­ily and rel­a­tives whose na­tion­al­i­ties were re­voked along with Shem­mari. The lower court had or­dered the gov­ern­ment to re­store Barghash’s cit­i­zen­ship, but the rul­ing was over­turned by the ap­peals court, which said courts were not com­pe­tent to rule on cit­i­zen­ship mat­ters. His case is still at the court of cas­sa­tion, which set the next hear­ing for mid-Novem­ber.

Others who had their cit­i­zen­ship re­voked in­clude Is­lamist preacher Sheikh Na­bil Al-Awadhi and op­po­si­tion ac­tivist Saad Al-Ajmi, who was de­ported to Saudi Ara­bia. They all have cases in courts. Shem­mari said af­ter the rul­ing that he had no doubt that the fair Kuwaiti ju­di­ciary would even­tu­ally rule in his fa­vor. His lawyer Al-Hu­maidi Al-Subaiei de­scribed the rul­ing as “his­toric” and thanked the ju­di­ciary.

Ex­plain­ing its ver­dict, the court said the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion was “un­law­ful” and op­pres­sive, be­cause it breached the con­sti­tu­tion. It said that Shem­mari ob­tained Kuwaiti na­tion­al­ity by birth be­cause he was born to a Kuwaiti fa­ther, and ac­cord­ingly his cit­i­zen­ship can­not be re­voked.

In an­other ma­jor devel­op­ment yes­ter­day, MP Ahmad Al-Qud­haibi filed a re­quest to grill Min­is­ter of Is­lamic Af­fairs and Jus­tice Yaqoub Al-Sane for ex­ces­sively de­lay­ing the is­suance of the by­laws of the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Au­thor­ity (ACA). The law­maker said that in De­cem­ber last year, the con­sti­tu­tional court abol­ished the es­tab­lish­ment of ACA, say­ing it was un­con­sti­tu­tional be­cause of pro­ce­dural flaws in the es­tab­lish­ment law. He said that three weeks later, the Na­tional Assem­bly voted to pass the same law af­ter in­tro­duc­ing key amend­ments to plug loop­holes, and the law was fi­nally pub­lished on Feb 1 this year.

This re­quired the jus­tice min­istry, be­ing re­spon­si­ble for the ACA, to is­sue the by­laws for the au­thor­ity within two months in ac­cor­dance with the law to en­able it to start work­ing. But the min­is­ter failed un­til now to is­sue the by­laws, which means that he ob­structed it from start­ing to func­tion and ef­fec­tively pre­vented the au­thor­ity from re­ceiv­ing wealth dis­clo­sures from min­is­ters, MPs and top bu­reau­crats.

The grilling will be an­nounced on the open­ing day of the new Assem­bly term on Oct 18, and the min­is­ter can then ask for a two-week de­lay. Sev­eral other law­mak­ers are cur­rently pre­par­ing sim­i­lar re­quests to grill Fi­nance Min­is­ter Anas Al-Saleh for be­ing re­spon­si­ble for rais­ing petrol prices. Two groups of MPs have al­ready said they will file grilling re­quests against Saleh, and sources said a third may be on the way.

The flurry of grillings made pro-gov­ern­ment MP Saadoun Ham­mad to say that he be­lieves that the Assem­bly will be dis­solved soon, and what re­mains is to de­ter­mine the date, which is in the hands of HH the Amir. In a re­lated devel­op­ment, five MPs sub­mit­ted a draft law stip­u­lat­ing to ban the gov­ern­ment from rais­ing petrol prices with­out a law from the Assem­bly.

Ahmad Al-Qud­haibi

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