The Kuwaiti lower court on Tuesday overturned a decision by the Gulf state’s government to revoke the citizenship of a former Islamist opposition lawmaker and his family, his lawyer said. “Thank God, the court has scrapped the decision and restored the citizenship of the Barghash family,” lawyer Al-Humaidi Al-Subaie wrote on his Twitter account.
The government had revoked the citizenship of Abdullah Al-Barghash, his two brothers and sister, and their children, last July. It charged that the family had been granted citizenship on the basis of false information, something Barghash denied. Opposition activists had described the government’s action as “politically motivated” and part of a wider crackdown on dissent.
The government also revoked the citizenship of other opposition figures, including Alam Al-Youm newspaper owner Ahmad Jabr Al-Shemmari and Popular Action Movement spokesman Saad Al-Ajmi, who was later deported to Saudi Arabia. Another bench of the lower court refused in September to restore Shemmari’s citizenship, saying it had no jurisdiction over citizenship issues because they were a sovereign matter.
The verdict on Shemmari was upheld by the appeals court in March and his lawyer has filed a petition to the supreme court.
Opposition figures and activists hailed the court’s decision on Barghash and denounced the government. “The restoration of Barghash’s citizenship is a condemnation of the government,” said former MP Abdulkareem Al- Kundari. Former liberal MP Saleh Al-Mulla said in a statement: “We hope that the court’s verdict today… will end the government’s politicisation of the nationality law.”
The ruling is not final, however, as the government can still challenge it before the appeals and supreme courts. Human Rights Watch had denounced what it called a “crackdown on people seeking reform”. The court had asked the government to state its reasons for revoking the citizenship of the Barghash family, something it refused to do. Kuwait has a population of 1.3 million, a large number of whom became citizens through naturalisation. The country has 2.9 million foreign residents.