Kuwaiti court orders return of opposition activist’s citizenship

The decision could see other opposition figures pursue similar cases through the courts



The Kuwaiti administrative lower court has ordered the government to restore the citizenship of pro-opposition activist and Al-Youm television owner Ahmad Jabr Al-Shemmari and pay him compensation.

The decision, which comes more than two years after Al-Shemmari’s citizenship was revoked, could lead other opposition figures to pursue similar cases, according to Kuwait Times.

In yesterday’s ruling, the court abolished an Amiri decree that withdrew Al-Shemmari’s citizenship and that of his four children and ordered the government to return their nationality immediately without waiting for rulings from the appeals and cassation courts.

The government was also ordered to pay KD5,001 ($16,546) in temporary compensation that could lead the Al-Youm television owner to seek larger damages.

Both the broadcaster and the Alam Al-Youm newspaper were shut down after the government revoked Al-Shemmari’s citizenship because media licences in the country must be in the name of Kuwaiti citizens.

Kuwait’s lower court previously rejected his case because it deemed nationality a sovereign issue. The appeals court upheld this verdict but the court of cassation ruled earlier this year that the courts could look into sovereign issues and ordered the lower court to hear the case again.

Explaining its decision yesterday, the administrative court said the government’s decision was “unlawful” and oppressive because it breached the constitution. It also argued Kuwaiti citizenship was Al-Shemmari’s birth right because he was born to a Kuwaiti father.

Kuwait Times said yesterday’s decision could open the way for several other opposition figures who had their citizenship revoked to pursue similar cases.

These include former Islamist MP Abdullah Al-Barghash and about 60 members of his family and relatives.

The lower court originally ordered the court to restore Al-Barghash’s citizenship but the appeals court overturned this. The next hearing of the case will be in mid-November at the court of cassation.

Other including Islamist preacher Sheikh Nabil Al-Awadhi and opposition activist Saad Al-Ajmi are also pursuing cases.