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Kuwaiti MPs criticised for brandishing weapons in parliament
March 10, 2015, 2:14 pm

Three Kuwaiti lawmakers have handed over their unlicensed weapons amid great fanfare and even greater debate about the ostentatious manner in which it was done. MPs Nabeel Al Fadl, Abdul Hamid Dashti and Abdullah Al Tamimi walked into the parliament building, carrying their weapons, and presented them to the interior ministry team tasked with collecting the unlicensed firearms.

“They handed over four weapons and ammunition and signed a form as per their request to document their action,” Adel Al Hashash, the acting head of the police media, said. Interior Minister Shaikh Mohammad Al Khalid said that he appreciated the lawmakers’ decision to hand over their weapons.

“They have given a good example of full commitment and positive response to the call by the security authorities to all people in Kuwait to hand over their unlicensed weapons,” he said. “They were quick to provide a remarkable example in supporting the nation’s security. It was also an outstanding example of the cooperation between the legislative and executive branches,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

But while the lawmakers’ intention and deeds were applauded, some legal experts pondered over the media show and the use of the parliament building for the handover.

“We hoped the lawmakers would hand over their weapons to the ministry’s task committee without displaying them at the parliament,” Mohammad Mohsin Al Mutairi, a lawyer, told a local daily. “It gave the impression that the possession of the weapons before the interior ministry called for their handover was legal. It seemed they were showing off they had broken the law since they were not supposed to have the weapons in the first place,” he said.

‘Part of a show’

Lawmakers represent the constitutional institution that drafts the country’s laws and they should be among the first to respect them, he added. “They drafted laws that banned the possession of unlicensed weapons, and yet they themselves had them. We now hope that the weapons handed over at the parliament are all they possessed, and not just one or two they used as part of a show,” he said.

Last week, MP Al Fadl urged his fellow lawmakers to hand in any unlicensed weapons in their possession at the interior ministry. “We should all support the law that parliament has approved and apply its provisions,” he said. “All lawmakers who have weapons should join this initiative and present a good example to be emulated by citizens. We can agree on a specific date and head to the interior ministry to hand in our weapons,” he said.

The law organising the collection of unlicensed firearms and ammunition was endorsed by the parliament in January. It allows the police, following authorisation from the interior ministry, to search any public location and private or public vehicles “if there is cause to believe there are unlicensed or unlawful firearms or ammunition.”

The law stipulates that anyone possessing unlicensed firearms and ammunition could be jailed for three years and fined KD 3,000 dinars.  The jail time is increased to seven years and there is a KD 20,000 fine for anyone who buys or sells unlicensed firearms and ammunition. People with unlicensed firearms and ammunition were given a grace period of four months to hand them in to authorities.

Last month, the interior minister asked members of the ruling family to hand over any unlicensed firearms or ammunition in their possession to the unlicensed firearms centres in the country’s five governorates. In his written request to the Amiri Court, the minister urged the ruling family members to be role models for all people in abiding by the unlicensed firearms and ammunition collection law passed by parliament.

Shaikh Mohammad said the ministry had prepared a watertight forces deployment plan to search for and bring to justice possessors of unlicensed firearms or ammunition in any part of the country. He added that the ministry was also embarking on a nationwide media campaign to persuade those with unlawful weapons in their possession to hand them in to authorities before the end of the four-month grace period.

The minister stressed that law enforcers will show due respect to traditions and Islamic values during the inspections. Female officers will participate in the raids on Kuwaiti citizens’ homes to inspect women’s areas, he added.

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