MP calls for pardoning activists jailed for expressing opinions

Saleh Ashour

KUWAIT: MP Saleh Ashour yesterday called for a general pardon for all Kuwaitis implicated in cases related to expressing their opinions on social networks – especially Twitter – as a part of calls to grant amnesty to activists jailed over protests or for online offences. The lawmaker called for conveying this message to HH the Amir and HH the Prime Minister, and urged National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem to convey this message.

Ashour said many online users do not have full knowledge of the law and the penalties for cybercrimes. Dozens of activists are either in jail or on trial for publishing material deemed offensive and punishable by the country’s laws. Ashour’s call comes as a campaign for pardoning former MPs and jailed opposition activists is gaining momentum after one former MP was pardoned and another is expected to be granted amnesty soon.

Around 15 former MPs and activists have been living in Turkey for the past 18 months to escape going to jail over the case of storming the National Assembly building in Nov 2011 following a protest against corruption. Two former MPs have returned so far. The first – Fahd Al-Khannah – was pardoned by HH the Amir, while the second – Waleed Al-Tabtabaei – returned from Turkey two days ago to accompany the body of his mother, who died there. He is expected to be pardoned by the Amir soon.

Head of the Assembly’s budget committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad said yesterday that financial controllers have registered over 20,000 financial violations committed by government departments in the 2018/2019 fiscal budget, which ended on March 31. Abdulsamad said the panel found the number of violations at the Civil Service Commission dropped by half to 344 violations.

MP Osama Al-Shaheen called yesterday for convening the Assembly on Tuesday, saying that the meeting must be held for legal and constitutional reasons. The regular meetings will not take place because the Cabinet has resigned and at least one minister is required to attend Assembly meetings for them to be constitutional. But some opposition MPs have insisted that the constitution does not stipulate the need for the attendance of ministers for the sessions to be in line with the constitution. The issue remains highly controversial and the Assembly is not expected to meet.

By B Izzak and A Saleh