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Kuwait: Human rights defender Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli beaten by police as sentence reduced

2016-06-20

Human rights defender Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli was beaten and bruised by policemen in Kuwait while being transferred from court to prison, according to information received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). This was despite the fact that one of his sentences was suspended for his human rights activities.

On 14 June 2016, Al-Fadhli was returning in handcuffs from a hearing held by the Court of Cassation on his way to the central prison in Kuwait, when he was subjected to beatings at the hands of three policemen, leaving him with a bruise and a visible injury on his forehead.

At the hearing, the Court of Cassation ruled that it would convert the first of several cases against him, in which he is accused of calling for a gathering, from a felony to a misdemeanor. As a result, the one-year sentence was suspended and the court ordered he be released pending review of his case the Misdemeanors Appeals Court. However, the possibility remains of Al-Fadhli being deported from the country, as part of his original sentence on 16 May 2016, until the Misdemeanors Appeals Court considers the case.

In addition, Al-Fadhli is still in prison serving a three-month prison sentence issued on 23 February 2016 on a charge of misuse of the phone related to his participation in a peaceful demonstration on 02 October 2013.

Reports have indicated that it is expected that Al-Fadhli will be released on 01 August 2016 after serving his three-month sentence in the second case. For more information about his case, see:

http://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/7

GCHR strongly condemns the beating of Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli by the police and believes it is a direct result of his peaceful and legitimate work for the promotion and protection of the rights of the Bedoon community and the exercise of his right to freedom of assembly. The GCHR calls on the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations and the European Union to ensure that Al-Fadhli is not deported and that the charges against him are dropped.  

The GCHR urges authorities in Kuwait to:

  1. Release Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli from detention as his detention is solely related to his human rights activism;
  2. Immediately rescind the deportation order of Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli and revoke the three-month sentence against him;
  3. Open an independent investigation into his beating and bring the attackers from the police force to a fair trial;  and
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kuwait are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters“, and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present declaration.