By B Izzak

KUWAIT: An Amiri decree was issued on Monday granting a special amnesty to an unspecified number of mainly Kuwaiti political prisoners who had been convicted to years of jail terms for violating freedom of speech laws. Deputy Premier and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Barrak Al-Sheetan said the decree was issued immediately after it was approved by the Cabinet during its weekly meeting on Monday.

He said the decree stipulates to grant an amnesty to a number of Kuwaiti citizens jailed for committing crimes from Nov 16, 2011 until the end of 2021. The minister said a special committee headed by him and including the attorney general and interior ministry undersecretary will start meetings on Thursday to prepare the lists of names of the prisoners to be pardoned under the decree.

The minister did not provide details on how many prisoners will be pardoned and the timeframe for the work of the special committee. Based on the decree, the amnesty will cover prisoners who were convicted for carrying out acts of aggression against a foreign country that could threaten Kuwait’s security. It also includes those jailed for spreading false news about the internal situation of Kuwait that could undermine the position of the country.

The amnesty will also include prisoners jailed for publicly insulting the authority of HH the Amir by any means, whether in writing or in speech. It will also include those convicted for misusing their phones to threaten others or the security of the state. Several months ago, HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah issued a decree pardoning a number of opposition political leaders, many of whom had been living in exile in Turkey, and a number of other prisoners in the country. The government also promised to pardon more political prisoners, which has been the main demand of a majority of MPs.

The Cabinet also agreed during its meeting to increase allowances of students on scholarships by 50 percent from April 2023. The decision was made on the directives of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on the importance of providing all kinds of support to students on scholarships and creating an appropriate living environment for them, the Cabinet said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, opposition MP Hamdan Al-Azmi carried out his threat and filed to grill Minister of Public Works and Minister of Electricity and Water Amani Bugammaz on Monday, saying her appointment constituted a conflict of interests. The grilling claimed that Bugammaz acted as an advisor for a Turkish company undertaking the multibillion-dollar Kuwait airport project. He added the project was delayed by one and a half years and the company was required to pay a delay fine of KD 85 million.

The lawmaker charged that there is a concern over the minister’s capability to collect the delay fine, because she had worked as an advisor for the company. The minister told the Assembly last week she stopped working for the company in April 2020, and that it was the engineering department of Kuwait University which assigned her to work as an advisor for the Turkish company.

MP Azmi also charged that the minister did not follow the rules in the appointment of a number of senior officials at the two ministries. The lawmaker said he filed the grilling to stop what he claimed are violations of public funds. Assembly Speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun said he sent a copy of the grilling to the government, adding it will be listed on the Assembly’s agenda for next week.