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Kuwait: Court of Appeal imprisons 67 citizens, including human rights defender Sulaiman Bin Jassim

2017-11-30

On 27 November 2017, the Court of Appeal in Kuwait sentenced 67 people to prison for allegedly storming Parliament in 2011, including prominent opposition leader Mussalam Al-Barrak, current and former members of parliament and human rights defender Sulaiman Bin Jassim. The sentences ranged from one to seven years for allegedly storming the building, in addition to another charge for two people, including Al-Barrak, who was sentenced to nine years. The Court has decided to suspend the sentences of seven of the accused who have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to two years.

Sulaiman Bin Jassim is co-founder of the National Committee for Monitoring Violations (NCV). On 27 November 2017, he was sentenced to five years in prison, although he had previously been acquitted by the Court of First Instance with the other accused in December 2013, after the court accepted evidence that the people entered parliament to get away from violence in the streets. He wrote on his twitter account the following: "Believing in my innocence and secure stand, and in respect for the judiciary, although I’m in agreement with its rule, I go with some of my brothers - sentenced without providing a defense - to surrender ourselves. Leaving my family with God and also what remains of my homeland. God is the best keeper.”

On 16 November 2011, following street demonstrations protesting the (former) Prime Minister, 70 people entered the National Assembly. Two were acquitted and one died, leaving 67 in the case. The Public Prosecutor's Office filed charges against the Kuwait 67 relating to the use of force and violence against public servants, namely the National Guards of the Parliament, in order to break into Parliament, as well as "unauthorised assembly" and "destruction of state property."

It is worth noting that the judgement of the Court of Appeal is enforceable after issuance, but members of the Kuwait 67 have the opportunity to bring the case before the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in the land.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses serious concern at the fabricated charges and unfair trial of the Kuwait 67 including Sulaiman Bin Jassim, who has been targeted solely for his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

GCHR urges the authorities in Kuwait to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Sulaiman Bin Jassim;
  2. Immediately and unconditionally release Sulaiman Bin Jasim, in addition to other prisoners of conscience;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kuwait are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities, and that everyone is free to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly peacefully, without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

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 to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (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.”