Following the murder of a Kuwaiti citizen by two "Bidoon" (stateless) Kuwait residents in Thailand, the Gulf state is planning to tighten its policies about granting passports to members of the marginalized community.
"Under the new measures, we will give passports only to those who need them for studies or medical treatment abroad, overseas business deals or to go to Makkah for Umrah or Haj," Shaikh Mazen Al Jarrah, the assistant undersecretary for citizenship and passports affairs, said, according to Gulf News . "We will not give passports to those who want to travel abroad for tourism or other purposes."
The Saturday murder that spurred the new restrictions took place during a fight in a cafe in Thailand. The murdered Kuwaiti army officer was stabbed by the two Bidoon.
Jarrah said that Bidoon who already had travel documents issued by Kuwait would not have their documents revoked: "When they will apply to renew their passports, we will assess whether they need them. They will be renewed only for those who need them under the new categories."
The Bidoon are a marginalized group within Kuwaiti society. There are 110,729 Bidoon officially registered with the government and only about 34,000 of these are eligible for citizenship under the current system.
Many of these individuals have ancestral heritage from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other regional countries. Their families have been living in Kuwait for several generations but when the state was officially formed in 1961, these individuals were not granted citizenship.
They remain in legal limbo as the state refuses to recognize them as citizens although many have little or no ties to their ancestral countries. Kuwait's government sees these longterm residents as illegal immigrants.
Since Kuwaiti citizenship is passed only through the father, the children of Kuwaiti women who marry Bidoon are considered stateless as well. In 2012, Kuwait attempted to remedy the situation by granting residency permits to Bidoon that could show they had passports from their ancestral countries.
"The stateless people who do know their origins should regularize their situation and obtain their passports from their countries of origin. They know perfectly well where they come from. We are not obliged to hand passports to those who are not Kuwaitis," Jarrah said.
In regards to the two Bidoon involved in the recent stabbing, Kuwait will be leaving it up to the Thai authorities to deal with them.
"They committed a crime in a country and they will be tried and sent to jail for a long time there. By then, their passports will be expired and they will not be allowed back into Kuwait. They will have to go to their country of origin."