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Thu 9 Apr 2015 12:00 PM

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Kuwait defends revocation of citizenships

A senior ministry official has insisted the government legally stripped at least 30 people of their citizenship, despite claims the decisions were political

Kuwait defends revocation of citizenships
(Getty Images)

A senior Kuwaiti official has defended the Gulf state’s decision to revoke the citizenship of at least 30 people in the past year, insisting each decision was legal.

“I challenge anyone claiming that the withdrawals were illegally done to discuss this issue with me,” Sheikh Mazen Al Jarrah Al Sabah, assistant undersecretary for citizenship and passport affairs in the Interior Ministry, was quoted as saying by Kuwait Times.

At least 30 people had their citizenship revoked between June and September last year, according to state news agency KUNA.

They included prominent opposition activist Saad Al Ajmi, Nabil Alawadhy, a well-known Sunni Muslim preacher and academic who had hosted a religious programme on a private television channel and several other opposition figures and members of their family.

The official reason for stripping the citizenships was that those who had been naturalised had either forged documents or had been incorrectly given citizenship when they were not included in the 1965 Census, a requirement the current government has taken to using.

Some argue they were born well after the 1965 Census.

Others, such as Al Ajmi and Alawadhy, claim their revocations were purely political.

"It's clear that they are targeting people with political positions," Al Ajmi said when his citizenship was revoked in September.

In August, Kuwait also threatened to strip citizenship from some naturalised citizens living abroad.

The decisions have left dozens stateless, due to Kuwait’s rule against dual citizenship.