Withdrawal of citizenship

Muna Al Fuzai

Muna Al Fuzai

The process of withdrawal of Kuwaiti citizenship from those who are believed to have obtained it by fraud or unlawfully is still continuing. The judiciary is currently considering a number of such cases and regardless of the final decision, I do not think the discussion in the media will be over soon. It is a sensitive issue affecting human rights in all cases, whether these people are convicted of deception or fraud in obtaining it or are acquitted, because the damage is inevitable. The damage to the reputation of a person, especially if he is a politician or journalist, has negative consequences for the person himself and the society.

The government represented by the ministry of interior has announced a “cleansing” operation against citizenship manipulators, but some people have gone to court, which is the right of a victim. The ministry of interior says that Kuwaiti nationality is considered sovereign and should not be subject to any defamation. This is a nice thing to say, and I hope it is not too late to fix the damage.

I am in favor of the process of withdrawing citizenship from manipulators and those who have obtained Kuwaiti citizenship unlawfully, because no person with any sense can accept manipulation in such an important sovereign document. Obtaining citizenship by fraud is dangerous because it affects the composition of the community and its security and culture, along with the privileges that they do not deserve, especially with regards to jobs, housing, loans and marriage. So busting manipulators is essential, but it does not mean that arresting counterfeiters is enough and this will solve the basic problem and its future repercussions, especially with regards to the multiplicity of loyalties and belonging.

How is the process being done? How could someone access those documents to facilitate the procedure? Official statements and of those who have been arrested talk about contacts with persons working in those departments, and so it was easier for them to access official papers.

A former employee at the general directorate of nationality and travel documents was forging documents and received huge amounts of money for it. A Syrian expat was arrested when he paid KD 20,000 to add his two sons to a Kuwaiti nationality file. A bedoon was also arrested for paying KD 10,000 for the same purpose. Often these people pay money to people who have access to Kuwaiti citizenship certificates who issue them after accepting bribes. This is a criminal act for sure.

The Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Passports Affairs Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah told the media that the withdrawal of citizenship is not an act of revenge but a matter of recalculation. If the recalculation targets those who obtained citizenship unlawfully, I certainly support this measure – but I am wondering who is behind these criminal acts in the first place and who the beneficiaries are. We are not talking about the work of an individual, but possibly gangs. Improper handling of the matter will make it look like an act of vengeance against politicians and journalists. This is a natural perception because some manipulators are known to be government opponents who once had seats in the parliament.

The Kuwaiti nationality provides financial benefits and security to its holder, so I understand that some people want it for this reason and are ready to pay large sums of money in order to get it. The prevalence of corruption and nepotism will make offenders feel they are immune from legal accountability, punishment and perhaps may even die taking their secret to the grave. Later, it will be a shock to their children when their citizenships are withdrawn.

The issue of stripping someone of a document supposed to emphasize affiliation to the homeland is not an easy thing, especially if this action affects the person’s wives and children who have no role in this deception. Therefore, this issue is specifically sensitive and should be treated with caution, with criminalization of the accused person and protection of innocent people.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net

This article was published on 30/04/2016