Posted on 11 February 2013.
Posted on 10 February 2013.
(Kuwait City)– A criminal court conviction of three former members of Kuwait’s parliament for “offending the emir” violates their right to freedom of expression. On February 5, 2013, the court found the defendants guilty, based on speeches they gave at a gathering in October 2012, and sentenced all three to three years in prison. The defendants have appealed their sentences, one of their lawyers told Human Rights Watch.
Since October, the Public Prosecution Office has charged nearly 25 people, including online activists, with offending the emir, the defendants, their lawyers, and human rights activists told Human Rights Watch. Criminal courts have sentenced at least six of them, including the three former members of parliament, to prison terms. A decision in another case is expected on February 11. The government should drop charges against those charged or convicted of crimes solely for exercising their rights to free expression and amend its criminal code to remove the crime of offending the emir, Human Rights Watch said.
“Sending politicians to prison for criticizing the ruler is at odds with official claims that Kuwait is a beacon of freedom in the Gulf,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The appeals court should overturn the convictions imposed for peaceful speech-related crimes.”
Authorities charged the three men, Khalid al-Tahoos, Badir al-Dahoom, and Falah al-Sawagh, after they spoke at a gathering in the house of a former member of parliament on October 10.
Al-Tahoos told Human Rights Watch in December that authorities brought the charges against him for a sentence in his speech: “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]. Then I said, ‘Your highness, there is a hairbetween you and the people. Don’t cut it.’” Local activists told Human Rights Watch that al-Dahoom and al-Sawagh also gave speeches that authorities deemed offensive to the emir.
On October 18, the Public Prosecution Office summoned and charged the three under article 25 of the Penal Code of 1970, which sets a maximum of five years in prison for anyone who publicly “objects to the rights and authorities of the emir or faults him.” The three men were held for five days in the State Security building in South Surra, then released on bail of 5,000 Kuwaiti Dinars ($17,700) each.
The lawyer, Muhammad al-Jamee’, told Human Rights Watch the men had not yet been ordered to begin serving the sentences. According to a copy of the ruling published by local newspapers on February 7, the court said that “the [three former members of parliament] directed their speech to the emir publicly and in a challenging manner… and pitched him to the rank of an average person.”
The court said it was “satisfied, as shown clearly, that the defendants had bad intention and their goal is not reform as they claim… but to fault and offend the power of the emir and they knew the content of those expressions.” However in the ruling the court did not specify the expressions the defendants had used in their speeches that the court found had violated the law.
The political crisis in Kuwait began in June, when the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, suspended parliament for a month, followed by a Constitutional Court’s decision to dissolve the parliament. In October, the emir amended the country’s electoral law and set December 1 to elect a new parliament. Opposition groups – including Islamists, liberals, nationalists, and tribal groups – organized a number of gatherings protesting the electoral law amendments and boycotted the December elections, contending that the parliament should make any changes in the electoral law.
In addition to the sentences issued on February 6, a criminal court decision is expected to rule on February 11 in the case of Mussalam al-Barak, a former member of parliament and a leading figure in opposition groups. He was arrested on October 29 after he gave a speech at a demonstration on October 20 in which he said, “Your Highness, we will not let you govern autocratically.” The Public Prosecution Office also charged al-Barak with offending the emir. He was released a few days later on a 10,000 Kuwait Dinars (US$35,450) and forbidden to leave the country.
“We, in Kuwait, have been enjoying the freedom of expression for years,” al-Barak told Human Rights Watch in December. “It is guaranteed by our constitution and people are using their right to express what they feel about their government. But now the government is coming to suppress it by prosecuting those who speak out and post remarks on Twitter [against its policies and actions].”
On January 6, a criminal court sentenced Rashed al-Enezi, an online activist, to two years in prison for offending the emir in dozens of Twitter remarks posted in 2012. He is serving his sentence, and the court of appeal is reviewing his case. He faces the same charge in two other cases related to remarks on Twitter and another charge of “illegal gathering and storming the building [of the parliament]” during a demonstration in November 2011, he told Human Rights Watch in December.
On January 7, a criminal court sentenced Ayad al-Harbi to two years in prison, also for offending the emir on Twitter. On February 3, a criminal court sentenced Muhammad al-Mikhyal to five years in prison for a similar crime, local human rights activists told Human Rights Watch.
Kuwait ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and assembly, in 1996. Article 19 of the ICCPR protects the right to freedom of expression, including “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which provides the definitive interpretation of the covenant, has stated that, “All public figures, including those exercising the highest political authority such as heads of state and government, are legitimately subject to criticism and political opposition” and that there should be substantial leeway to allow “uninhibited expression” about these public figures in public debate. The Committee suggests that defamation of public figures should not be a criminal offense and that imprisonment for defamation would never be an appropriate penalty.
“Authorities should suspend and then abolish laws that criminalize peaceful criticism of public officials because they violate international human rights standards,” Houry said.
Posted on 25 January 2013.
Posted on 12 November 2012.
Posted on 06 November 2012.
Posted on 11 October 2012.
Posted by: Siba Bizri
Arabic Shoah Editor in Chief
تعيش الكويت حالة من التصعيد، من قبل المعارضة فى مجلس الأمة، (البرلمان) 2012 المبطل، وتلبدت الأجواء السياسية بشكل كبير، وتعقدت مع ارتفاع سقف المعارضة، لتغيير القانون الانتخابى وتقليص عدد الأصوات، ووسط حضور جماهيرى، ووجود أمنى كثيف، نفذت كتلة الأغلبية البرلمانية، أول إجراءات المواجهة السياسية والميدانية ضد توجه السلطة، إلى تغيير النظام الانتخابى، عبر رفعها سقف الخطاب السياسى، بشكل غير مسبوق وبلا حدود، والتواجد خارج حدود الديوانية، بعد فشل رجال الأمن فى محاولات إقناع الحضور بالبقاء، ضمن حدود أسوار المنزل.
وشهدت ندوة “للأمة كلمة”، التى أقيمت مساء أمس فى ديوان أحد النواب، توجيه خطاب مباشر لأمير الكويت، برفض العبث فى النظام الانتخابى، وتغيير آلية التصويت، وإعلان عدم السماح بالتفرد بالقرار، ومحاولات الانقلاب على الدستور.
وأفادت مصادر لصحيفة “القبس” الكويتية، أن كتلة الأغلبية تداولت أكثر من فكرة لإضافة الزخم الشعبى، الرافض لأى مراسيم للضرورة تتعلق بالنظام الانتخابى، لاسيما إشراك التحالف الوطنى، والمنبر الديموقراطى فى هذا الحراك بفعالية، قبل تجمع ساحة الإرادة المقبل، ومواصلة التجمعات، وإطلاق مسيرات فى الشوارع مع رفع سقف الخطاب السياسى، وإعلان مقاطعة الانتخابات، واعتبار من يشارك فيها ترشحا أو انتخابا فاسدا طوال التاريخ.
وتركزت كلمات المتحدثين على رفض مراسيم الضرورة، خصوصا أى مرسوم، يصدر بتعديل آلية التصويت فى الانتخابات المقبلة، معتبرين ذلك أمرا، يجب التصدى له، ولفت المتحدثون إلى انحياز السلطة التنفيذية إلى كفة أقلية، دون مختلف التيارات السياسية، مشيرين إلى ما أسموه، بمخططات للانقلاب على الدستور.
وقد أعلن أمير قبيلة العوازم، فلاح بن جامع، رفض أى تعديل لآلية التصويت فى الانتخابات المقبلة، وقال إنه فى حال التعديل فإن قبيلة العوازم، ستمتنع عن المشاركة فى الانتخابات المقبلة، كما أعلن عدد من مشايخ قبيلة عتيبة، رفضهم المشاركة فى الانتخابات إذا صدر مرسوم، بضرورة تعديل آلية التصويت.
ونقلت مصادر نيابية، عن أطراف فى القيادة السياسية، أن مسألة إعادة النظر فى قانون الانتخاب، أصبحت قضية ملحة، لإعادة الوضع فى البلاد، إلى جادة الاستقرار، مشيرة إلى أن القضية مسألة وقت ليس إلا.
Posted on 20 January 2012.
This is a shameful effort to curb the rights to peaceful expression and assembly of Kuwait’s Bidun. These universal rights belong to everyone, regardless of whether they are considered citizens or are fighting to gain citizenship.
Posted on 24 June 2011.
For 50 years, Kuwait has dawdled in reviewing Bidun citizenship claims, while creating a straightjacket of regulations that leave them in poverty and extreme uncertainty. Kuwait has every resource it needs to solve this problem, but chooses to stall instead.
(Kuwait City) – Kuwait has not made good on its decades of promises to address citizenship claims for more than 106,000 stateless Bidun residents, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 63-page report, “Prisoners of the Past: Kuwaiti Bidun and the Burden of Statelessness,” describes how in Kuwait, one of the world’s richest countries, the Bidun live under the radar of normal society, vulnerable and without protection. Many live in poverty. Kuwait considers the Bidun “illegal residents.” The government has denied them essential documentation, including birth, marriage, and death certificates, as well as access to free government schools and legal employment opportunities.
“Like the rest of the Arab world, the Bidun have had enough and are demanding reforms the government should have made years ago,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The government responded to peaceful demonstrators with promises of reform, but it needs to go further and tackle their citizenship claims.”
In February and March 2011 hundreds of Bidun gathered to protest the government’s failure to act on their citizenship applications. In response, the government has promised some new benefits, including birth, marriage, and death certificates, free health care, and improved access to jobs. If implemented, these would be positive steps, Human Rights Watch said. But it would leave the root cause of their condition – their citizenship claims – unchanged.
Umm Walid, a 43-year-old Bidun widow, said that she had no paperwork establishing her relationship to her deceased husband. “[When] a Bidun dies, there is no death certificate, [so] there is no proof that I even had a husband,” she said. “We don’t have [an] identity.” Basim A. told Human Rights Watch, “[My son] was born without a birth certificate, [and died] without a death certificate.”
Statelessness has existed in Kuwait since independence in 1961. After an initial registration period ended, authorities shifted Bidun citizenship applications to a series of committees that have avoided resolving the claims while maintaining sole authority to determine Bidun access to civil documentation and social services. Kuwaiti law bans the courts from ruling on citizenship claims.
Since the mid-1980s, the government has maintained that the vast majority of Bidun are “illegal residents” who have deliberately destroyed evidence of other nationality, while denying individualized reviews of their claims. Unregistered Bidun, whose citizenship applications the authorities have either closed or refused to register, are even more vulnerable than others, with restrictions on their freedom of movement and constant fear of deportation.
International law bans the arbitrary deprivation of nationality and requires countries to consider applicants’ “genuine and effective links” with a country when evaluating nationality claims, including the social, cultural, and economic ties they have established over time. The Kuwaiti government should create a timely and transparent mechanism to review Bidun citizenship claims that incorporates international human rights standards, Human Rights Watch said. The process should take into account the Bidun’s longstanding, historic ties to Kuwait, and should include an opportunity for judicial review.As “illegal residents,” the Bidun face obstacles to obtaining civil documentation, leaving them unable to get consistent social services or function as normal members of society. The Central System for Resolving Illegal Residents’ Status, the “Bidun Committee,” the latest administrative body tasked with addressing Bidun claims, must approve all official matters involving this group.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 70 people for the report, including 18 who identify themselves as stateless Bidun, as well as local human rights and civil society advocates, lawyers, and academics. Human Rights Watch also met with officials from the Central System to Resolve Illegal Residents’ Affairs.Bidun interviewed said that the committee has denied their applications for government documents, claiming to have evidence that they had other “true nationalities” – evidence that they have not been allowed to see or contest. They said the body has rejected applications for birth, marriage, and death certificates, leaving them with no way to prove legal relationships to family members.
International human rights law requires governments to provide certain civil documentation for all residents, whether legal or illegal, including a child’s right to registration upon birth, and the right to marry and found a family. The Kuwaiti government should ensure the Bidun’s right to civil documentation, including birth certificates, marriage registration, death certificates, and travel documents.
“Denying Bidun basic identification documents on the basis of secret evidence that they have other nationality is as arbitrary as it is unfair,” Whitson said. “The Kuwaiti government’s policy to make Bidun invisible doesn’t make the Bidun problem go away, but it does bring suffering and exclusion to vulnerable people.”
Bidun also face violations of their social and economic rights, including their rights to education, health, and work, Human Rights Watch said. The Kuwaiti government provides certain handouts, and on May 26 agreed to provide ration cards for food allowances through government-run cooperatives. But the government has not recognized enforceable legal rights and benefits for the Bidun, and continues to enforce discriminatory policies against them.While some Bidun carry security IDs to allow them to get services available to the Bidun, unregistered Bidun do not even have these documents and fear leaving their homes because they risk arrest and deportation. The government excludes unregistered Bidun from the handouts it provides, including some of the new reforms promised this spring. Unregistered Bidun face significantly greater obstacles to accessing education, health care, and work opportunities.
Though Kuwait has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires governments to provide free universal and free primary education, most Bidun children cannot attend the free government schools for Kuwaiti children. Instead, with some tuition assistance, they go to inferior private schools that serve Bidun almost exclusively. Kuwaiti children receive free education through the university level.
Umm Abdullah, a 58-year-old Bidun woman, told Human Rights Watch that of her four grandchildren, two granddaughters did not go to school, and that while one grandson received tuition assistance, the other did not. Bidun who did go to school lamented a lack of higher educational opportunities and jobs, even if they did well in school.
“Our school was very bad,” said Fatima A., a 24-year-old Bidun woman. “And [though] I received a 96 percent, afterward, I couldn’t do anything.”As “illegal residents,” the Bidun cannot legally hold most jobs. The government has carved out a very narrow pool of positions for which they can apply. Some Bidun said they had resorted to informal and undependable work, such as selling vegetables on the street, car repair, or tailoring. Those who have opened their own businesses have had to rely on citizen friends or relatives to register licenses and property in their names, as Bidun cannot own property or obtain business licenses.
“My father served in the Kuwaiti army 27 years,” said Zahir, a 50-year-old Bidun, “[But now,] nobody in my family works.”
Bidun interviewed also lacked affordable or accessible health care. As indigent patients, some could not afford medical care prescribed for them, while others lacked documentation they said hospitals and clinics required to treat them. Kuwait’s government recently promised free health care to the Bidun. All Kuwaiti citizens get free health care at government clinics and hospitals.The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of non-citizens has stressed that “all persons should by virtue of their essential humanity enjoy all human rights,” including rights to education and health care with only “exceptional distinctions,” while the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Kuwait is a party, prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin or statelessness.
“Given the vast amount of resources at its disposal, it’s shameful that any child in Kuwait should go without schooling, or that families should live from hand-to-mouth,” Whitson said. “By confining the Bidun to different schools, marginal or illegal jobs, and separate lives, the government is engaging in segregation, an egregious type of discrimination.”
During a citizenship drive leading up to Kuwait’s independence, significant numbers of people living on the outskirts of Kuwait, particularly among nomadic Bedouin tribes, failed to complete application procedures. Some were illiterate and could not produce documents proving their claims under Kuwait’s nationality law, while others simply did not understand the importance that citizenship would later acquire.In the 1960s and 70s Kuwait gave Bidun the same access to social and public services as citizens, except for voting rights. But during the political instability of the 1980s, when the country experienced a series of terrorist attacks, policy towards the Bidun dramatically shifted, and the government removed their access to government schools, free health care, and certain government jobs. Government officials began asserting that the vast majority of the Bidun were nationals of neighboring countries who had destroyed their documents in hopes of claiming the benefits of Kuwaiti citizenship, and that they were “illegal residents.”
Following the 1991 Iraqi invasion and the subsequent liberation, Bidun found themselves facing increasing hardship and suspicion. No longer considered part of Kuwaiti society during a time when suspicion of Iraqi infiltrators ran high, many lost their jobs in the country’s army and police forces.
In November 2010 government officials promised a new initiative to resolve the situation within five years, and following Bidun protests in February and March they made further promises to grant all registered Bidun free health care, provide children with free schooling, and to increase their employment opportunities. However, none of these promises have yet become enforceable legal rights.
Posted on 23 June 2011.
Posted on 20 April 2011.
Tags: ACLU, Assange, Bradley Manning, Censorship, extradition, Fort Leavenworth, Gitmo,Julian Assange, P.J. Crowley, PJ Crowley, Quantico, State Department, Sweden, US involvement, Wikileaks | Categories:Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p4XPG-39u
“Manning’s treatment during his detention has been the subject of intense criticism. The ACLU called his treatment “gratuitously harsh” in a letter sent last month to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. And former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was forced to resign after publicly calling Manning’s treatment by the military “counterproductive and stupid.” President Obama found himself defending Manning’s treatment at a press conference last month.
Johnson, however, said there were a number of other issues that led the Pentagon to re-evaluate Manning’s confinement location. These included the length of time he’s expected to be confined prior to undergoing a trial, and the services available to pre-trial prisoners.
Johnson said Quantico was designed for only short pre-trial stays of a few months, whereas Manning was already in his ninth month at Quantico and is not expected to go to trial for many more months.Leavenworth was also more suitable because it has better mental health support and is an Army facility. Manning is an Army soldier, and the case against him is being handled by the Army, not the Marine Corps. “