Kuwait: Kuwait: Human rights defender Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli released, but still facing charges
On 02 August 2016, human rights defender Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli was released from prison in Kuwait after serving a three-month sentence, among other sentences. The three-month prison sentence was issued on 23 February 2016 on a charge of alleged misuse of the phone related to his participation in a peaceful demonstration on 02 October 2013. He is still appealing other sentences and is due in court on 20 September 2016.
On 14 June 2016, at a hearing, the Court of Cassation ruled that it would convert the first of several cases against him (in which he was 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 him to be released pending review of his case by the Misdemeanors Appeals Court at a hearing on 20 September 2016. However, the possibility remains that Al-Fadhli will be deported from the country, which was one of the penalties handed down with his original sentence on 16 May 2016, until the Misdemeanors Appeals Court considers the case.
While returning to the central prison from the hearing in May, Al-Fadhli was handcuffed and subjected to beatings at the hands of three policemen, leaving him with a bruise and a visible injury on his forehead.
For more information about the case see: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/7
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) welcomes the release of Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli but calls on the government of Kuwait to stop targeting him with criminal charges related to his human rights work.
The GCHR urges authorities in Kuwait to:
- Revoke all the charges against Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli as they are solely related to his human rights activism;
- Immediately rescind the deportation order of Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli;
- Open an independent investigation into his beating and bring the attackers from the police force to a fair trial; and
- 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.”