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Under-30 expat ban put on hold; MPs slam abuses by policemen

Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh

KUWAIT: Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh said the ministry has delayed the implementation of a decision to ban the recruitment of expatriates who are under 30 years of age. The decision was supposed to go into effect on Jan 1, but the minister said it was decided to delay it for further considerations and in order to study objections by some ministries and government departments.

Meanwhile, opposition MP Adel Al-Damkhi said yesterday that a debate on the jailing of two sitting lawmakers who enjoy parliamentary immunity has been set for Jan 9. The announcement came after opposition lawmakers threatened to grill the prime minister if the issue was not debated. He said the government should come prepared and should submit the legal justification for jailing the two MPs while they still enjoy immunity.

MPs Jamaan Al-Harbash and Waleed Al-Tabtabaei were among 67 opposition activists sentenced by the appeals court to various jail terms for storming the National Assembly building during a protest in 2011. Opposition lawmakers are demanding why the two MPs have been arrested and sent to jail although the ruling is not final and will be looked by the court of cassation.

Member of the Assembly’s human rights panel MP Abdullah Fahhad said he visited the jailed MPs and activists in the case and expressed deep regret for the jailing of the activists while “MPs who took bribes are free in the Assembly”. Fahhad was referring to the to the issue that the activists were protesting against – a highly-publicized corruption case involving 13 current and former MPs who were accused of accepting millions of dinars in bribes for casting votes in the Assembly.
During the protests, activists entered the Assembly building and 70 of them were taken to court. The lower court acquitted them, while the appeals court convicted them. Fahhad said that he learned that police abused five of the activists in jail and complained to the interior minister, who promised to investigate the claims. Opposition MP Mohammad Hayef strongly lashed at some senior officers in the interior ministry “who are abusing both Kuwaitis and expatriates”, demanding it was high time to sack them.

Assembly speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem said that it was agreed with the MPs to allocate two hours in the session of Jan 9-10 to debate the case of the jailed lawmakers. During the debate, opposition MP Shuaib Al-Muwizri clashed with pro-government MP Salah Khorshid when the latter objected to the raising of the issue, demanding that all MPs should respect court verdicts.

Also during the Assembly session, which was cut short because of a lack of quorum, MP Adnan Abdulsamad called on the government to treat Sunnis and Shiites equally with regards to issuing licenses for building mosques. Abdulsamad said that it is “illogical” that there are only 50 mosques for Shiites against as many as 1,800 mosques for Sunnis, and called for fair treatment. State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh assured the lawmaker that the government treats all citizens equally without discrimination.

By B Izzak

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