Cabinet approves amnesty decrees • Speaker thanks Amir

HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday approved draft Amiri decrees which will pardon dozens of former MPs and political activists who had been convicted and sentenced to various jail terms, an official statement said. The statement was issued following an extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet chaired by HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah.

The move came after several sessions of national dialogue called by HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in which the government, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem and three opposition MPs took part. HH the Amir then invoked article 75 of the constitution, which authorizes him to pardon prisoners or reduce their sentences, and decided to pardon a number of Kuwaiti citizens convicted and sentenced to jail terms.

HH the Amir had assigned the Assembly speaker, prime minister and head of the judicial council Ahmad Al-Ajeel to set out conditions for the planned amnesty. The three submitted their first report on the issue to HH the Amir late last week. “The Council of Ministers approved the necessary draft decrees which will be referred to the Amir,” the Cabinet statement said yesterday.

Under Kuwaiti law, the Cabinet approves decrees and HH the Amir officially issues them. No details were published on the content of the decrees or the names of people who will be pardoned. But local media cited unnamed senior government sources as saying that around 70 people will be pardoned, topped by a dozen opposition former lawmakers and activists who have been living in exile in Turkey since the summer of 2018 to escape verdicts of jail terms passed against them for storming the National Assembly building following an anti-corruption protest in 2011.

They include former prominent opposition MPs Musallam Al-Barrak, Faisal Al-Mislem, Jamaan Al-Harbash and others. The list is expected to include some convicts in Kuwait. More people will be pardoned later as the three-man high-level panel is still considering more cases, according to Ghanem, who thanked HH the Amir profusely.

The Cabinet also expressed its thanks and appreciation to HH the Amir for his gesture. It also thanked the Assembly speaker, head of the judiciary and members of the Assembly for their efforts. “The Council of Ministers is confident that this move will pave the way for fruitful cooperation between the legislative and executive authorities in accordance with the principles of the constitution,” said the Cabinet statement.

Last Thursday, the speaker told reporters that the panel had submitted its first report and recommendations they had reached unanimously. “Things are now in the hands of the Amir,” he said. He added there will be more reports as more cases of convicts will be discussed. “I was honored today, along with the heads of the judicial and executive authorities, with a meeting with His Highness the Amir to present the report, including the recommendations, to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf,” Ghanem said. He indicated other reports concerning “crucial and complex” issues would be delivered to HH the Amir after “studying them”, indicating that these matters could not be examined in a short period of time.

Ghanem had reaffirmed that HH the Amir solely enjoys the power to issue an amnesty in such cases. He expressed gratitude to HH the Amir, hoping that the Kuwaiti people will be satisfied with the work he had done with his colleagues, whom he thanked, along with consultants who had expressed their views during the meeting, in addition to MPs who were helpful in the mission.