Kuwait which had been refusing to be part of a GCC internal security pact on grounds that it infringed on its Constitution, has decided to ratify it even as critics say the pact aims to curb freedom of expression and basic rights of people in the region. A former head of the now-dissolved Kuwaiti parliament, Ahmed Sadoun, has blasted the draft pact on his Twitter account and said it sought to “kill the freedom of expression and violates individual rights and dignity”. The draft pact has six chapters and 45 articles, and Kuwait had been refusing to ratify saying that many of its articles ran against its Constitution and threatened the political rights of its citizens, a Kuwaiti online newspaper ‘Al Sabr’ reported Nov17. But in a surprising change of heart, Kuwait’s Interior Minister, Sheikh Ahmed Al Hammood, has declared his support for the pact and said that GCC Interior Ministers had “reasonable basis and strategic reasons to enhance cooperation through this pact to face current challenges in the region and ensure stability”. GCC states must find ways to combat threats like terrorism, drug smuggling and other organized crimes as well as cyber and economic crimes that are raising their head in the region, according to Al Hammood. Article 1 of the draft pact talks of preventing member-GCC states from hosting any outlawed or anyone who poses a threat to the region’s security and from providing weapons or funding to help trigger violence or corruption. According to Article 2 of the draft, member GCC countries must take measures against nationals or expatriates who intervene in what are considered as internal matters of a fellow member-state. No pamphlets or any other printed or any other form of propaganda material should be allowed in a GCC state that are against Islam or Islamic laws or that target the security of a member state, says Article 3. No explosives or weapons of any kind other than those allowed by the law of a member GCC country would be allowed to be supplied from the soil of a member GCC state.As per Article 4, member GCC states would exchange information and provide technical backup to one another’s public security forces to help prevent a crime or crimes. They would exchange their laws and regulations that relate to the activities of their respective interior ministries. All laws related to migration and issuance or passports to citizens and residency permits to expatriates would have to be unified by the GCC states as per Article 10 of the draft pact. A person wanted by a member state and crossing over to another GCC state should be trailed and taken into custody. However, public security forces of a member country must not cross over to another member state in trailing a suspect or wanted person unless there is a bilateral agreement between the concerned countries that permits that. A member state must hand over an accused or a convict (sentenced by court) to another member state on request. The draft pact says it wouldn’t impact bilateral agreements among member states. After the pact has been signed it must be ratified by the governments of the respective countries. The pact can be modified by a higher joint council and a member state would have the right to withdraw from it provided it makes an announcement to the effect to the Secretary-General of the GCC. However, withdrawal is to be effective only after six months of the announcement having been made. The report about the GCC internal security pact has evoked sharp reactions from people, politicians and human rights activists in Kuwait. “It is going to be a disaster,” wrote Abu Ahmed commenting on ‘Al Sabr’. “It would mean more problems for the people in the region.” Aljazeera.net also carried the report and quoted a former speaker of the dissolved Kuwaiti parliament, Ahmed Sadoun, as saying that for many years Kuwait had been refusing to sign the pact since it infringed upon its Constitution. “We need to be careful as new attitudes and thinking about internal security emerge in the region…Such deals would affect our freedoms,” he said. Fahad Al Shelaimi, head of Gulf Forum for Security and Sfatey, told Aljazeera.net that Kuwait had got two articles removed from the draft pact and then agreed to ratify it. One of the articles referred to handing over nationals to a fellow GCC states while other pertained to allowing public security forces of a member state to enter the other state. Mohamed Al Hamidi, from Kuwait’s Human Rights Association, told Aljazeera.net the pact would undermine the dignity of the people. “It is sad that while the GCC states are supporting uprisings in other Arab countries they are talking of curbing freedoms and arresting their own people. The draft of the Gulf internal security pact has been leaked by ‘Al Sabr’ triggering discussions on social networking sites for the first time on such an issue as it concerns the people and their freedoms.