Court up­holds restora­tion of Shim­mari’s cit­i­zen­ship

Panel: ‘Po­lit­i­cal ex­clu­sion’ law un­con­sti­tu­tional

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By B Iz­zak

KUWAIT: The ap­peals court yes­ter­day up­held a rul­ing by the lower court that or­dered the govern­ment to re­turn the cit­i­zen­ship of pro-op­po­si­tion me­dia owner Ahmad Jabr Al-Shim­mari, which was re­voked by the govern­ment over two years ago. Shim­mari’s lawyer and newly-elected MP Al-Hu­maidi Al-Subaei de­scribed the rul­ing as historic and called on the new in­te­rior min­is­ter to im­ple­ment the ver­dict as soon as pos­si­ble.

He threat­ened to seek court ac­tion or use con­sti­tu­tional tools in the Na­tional As­sem­bly if in­te­rior min­istry au­thor­i­ties re­jected or de­layed the restora­tion of the cit­i­zen­ship to Shim­mari and his four chil­dren. In a land­mark rul­ing, the lower ad­min­is­tra­tive court said in Oc­to­ber that the re­vo­ca­tion of Shim­mari’s cit­i­zen­ship by the govern­ment was op­pres­sive and un­fair and de­manded its im­me­di­ate restora­tion.

Ini­tially, Shim­mari’s re­quest for restor­ing his cit­i­zen­ship was re­jected by the lower and ap­peals court on the ba­sis that they were not qual­i­fied to look into cit­i­zen­ship is­sues, which are sov­er­eign mat­ters. But the court of cas­sa­tion later ruled that courts are com­pe­tent enough to hear such cases and or­dered the case to be looked into from the start.

Shim­mari, the owner of Al-Alam satel­lite tele­vi­sion and Alam Al-Youm news­pa­per, was stripped of his cit­i­zen­ship over two years ago for al­legedly threat­en­ing na­tional se­cu­rity. Sev­eral other op­po­si­tion lead­ers saw their cit­i­zen­ships with­drawn as part of a crack­down on dis­sent. Their cases are be­ing looked into by other courts. Through­out the trial, the govern­ment had in­sisted courts have no le­gal right to look into na­tion­al­ity cases. Newly-elected MPs have vowed to amend the 1959 na­tion­al­ity law to pre­vent the govern­ment from re­vok­ing cit­i­zen­ships with­out a fi­nal court rul­ing.

Mean­while, As­sem­bly Speaker Mar­zouq Al-Ghanem said yes­ter­day that he will not al­low a spe­cial de­bate on Aleppo sched­uled for to­mor­row to turn into sec­tar­ian ex­changes. He said that if the de­bate wit­nesses sec­tar­ian ten­sions, he will ad­journ the ses­sion.

Sep­a­rately, the le­gal and leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee yes­ter­day said that a con­tro­ver­sial law passed by the pre­vi­ous As­sem­bly that bars peo­ple con­victed in po­lit­i­cal cases from run­ning for public of­fice “was un­con­sti­tu­tional”. Head of the panel MP Mo­ham­mad Al-Dal­lal said the com­mit­tee made the de­ci­sion while re­view­ing four pro­pos­als to amend the law to al­low con­victed politi­cians from con­test­ing polls.

But he said the com­mit­tee re­jected all the amend­ments on the ba­sis that the law it­self is un­con­sti­tu­tional. It has re­ferred the is­sue to the con­cerned in­te­rior and de­fense com­mit­tee. The com­mit­tee also met a num­ber of con­sti­tu­tional ex­perts and for­mer MPs to dis­cuss the con­tro­versy over the elec­tion of the deputy speaker. It was de­cided to de­lay the is­sue for the next ses­sion.

The con­sti­tu­tional court yes­ter­day or­dered that bal­lot boxes for last month’s As­sem­bly elec­tion in the sec­ond and third con­stituen­cies be re­opened and asked con­sul­tants to study them. A num­ber of can­di­dates who chal­lenged the re­sults had de­manded that the court or­der the recounting of votes to en­sure that the re­sults are cor­rect. The court will study pe­ti­tions against re­sults in the fourth con­stituency to­day and in the fifth dis­trict to­mor­row. It de­ferred pe­ti­tions in the first con­stituency un­til Jan 23.

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