Human Rights Watch censures Kuwaiti government
Nadim Houry, the deputy Middle East director at the New York-based human rights organization, said on Thursday, “Sending politicians to prison for criticizing the ruler is at odds with official claims that Kuwait is a beacon of freedom in the [Persian] Gulf.”
On February 5, a criminal court in Kuwait sentenced three former opposition members of parliament to three years in prison for insulting the emir.
Falah al-Sawwagh, Bader al-Dahoum and Khaled al-Tahous were charged based on the speeches they made at a public gathering, warning against the changes to a law in October 2012. The defendants have reportedly appealed the court decision.
“The appeals court should overturn the convictions imposed for peaceful speech-related crimes,” Houry stated.
In December 2012, Tahous had informed the human rights body of the content of his speech that prompted the authorities to charge him with the prison sentence.
“I said that the political situation was very critical and I said that his highness needs to intervene to put an end to the violations of the constitution that are committed by the [government],” Tahous said.
“Then I said, ‘Your highness, there is a hair between you and the people. Don’t cut it.’”
Criticizing the emir is illegal in Kuwait and is considered a state security charge. Those convicted of the offence face up to five years in jail.
On February 3, a court in Kuwait also sentenced Mohammad Eid al-Ajmi, an opposition youth activist, to five years in prison for insulting the emir on Twitter.
Kuwait, an oil-rich Persian Gulf littoral state, is stuck in growing tensions between the government, controlled by al-Sabah family, and its parliament.
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