Kuwait: Kuwait: Human rights defender Rana Al-Saadoun sentenced to three years in prison
On 21 June 2015, the Criminal Court in Kuwait sentenced in absentia human rights defender Rana Al-Saadoun to three years in prison with hard labour. The court convicted her of repeating a speech which was delivered in 2002 by former MP Musallam Al-Barrak in which he criticised the electoral law. Al-Barrak is currently serving a two-year prison sentence because of this speech.
Rana Al-Saadoun is a co-founder of the National Committee to Monitor Violations (NCV) which is an organisation that documents violations of freedom of expression in Kuwait. She has continued to play an effective role in the activities of the NCV. Al-Saadoun is reportedly staying in Lebanon at the moment.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) believes that the prison sentence handed down to Rana Al-Saadoun is solely due to her activities in the field of human rights, and in particular her work in defense of freedom of expression in Kuwait.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the authorities in Kuwait to:
1. Revoke the three-year prison sentence and drop all the charges against Rana Al-Saadoun as they are related to her human rights activities;
2. 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, recognizes 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 5 (c): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (c) To communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations“ and to 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“.