Court upholds restoration of Shimmari’s citizenship

Panel: ‘Political exclusion’ law unconstitutional

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court that ordered the government to return the citizenship of pro-opposition media owner Ahmad Jabr Al-Shimmari, which was revoked by the government over two years ago.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 Several other opposition leaders saw their citizenships withdrawn as part of a crackdown on dissent.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.

By B Izzak

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