Kuwait's cabinet approves move granting pardons and restoration of citizenship

Draft decree lays out plan to restore Kuwaiti citizenship to opposition figure Ahmad Al Jabr

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nawaf Al Sabah at a parliamentary session in Kuwait City. AFP
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Kuwait’s Council of Ministers approved a draft Emiri decree that will lead to a number of prisoners being pardoned, as well as the restoration of citizenship for opposition figures that were revoked about a decade ago.

The announcement was made late on Monday and comes after a meeting led by Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nawaf Al Sabah, who confirmed in a statement that the planned pardons were based on a “consolidation of the values of tolerance and transcendence that the rulers of Kuwait have established”.

The amnesty will cover 49 citizens convicted on political charges over the past decade, Kuwait’s Government Communication Centre announced.

The decree also grants amnesty to about two dozen tribesmen, including a former member of parliament, who are serving two-year jail terms for holding illegal tribal primary elections before last year’s general elections. The poll was later annulled by the constitutional court.

Tribal primary elections are banned under Kuwaiti law and participants can face up to five years in jail and fines. But tribes and other groups in society have held them in the past, with the votes covered by local media.

The decree issued on Monday night also returned Kuwaiti citizenship to Ahmad Al Jabr, owner of opposition TV channel Al Youm. He was one of a number of opposition figures whose citizenship was revoked in 2014.

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf this year pardoned at least 37 people, including political figures and members of the ruling family, in a move welcomed by the government at the time as a step towards national reconciliation. Sheikh Nawaf also issued two decrees in 2021 granting pardons or reduced sentences to 35 dissidents, to fulfil the demands of members of parliament.

Kuwait has faced political uncertainty in recent years amid disputes between opposition politicians and senior government officials, including members of the ruling family who served in previous cabinets.

Updated: November 28, 2023, 8:46 AM