Kuwait: Update: Kuwait: Blogger Sarah Al-Drees released on bail
Update: Kuwait: At the next hearing in the case of Sara Al-Drees on 27 October, the trial was postponed again until 24 November 2016. The case was heard on 24 November, and is ongoing.
On 06 October 2016, the Criminal Court in Kuwait held the first hearing in the trial of blogger and human rights defender Sara Al-Drees. The court ordered her released on a bail of 500 Kuwaiti Dinars (US$1,656) and adjourned the hearing to 27 October 2016. She was then freed from prison after the court imposed a travel ban on her.
The Public Prosecution’s office has accused her of allegedly defaming the Amir of Kuwait, violating the Cyber Crimes law and the misuse of a mobile phone in relation to the tweets that she published on her twitter account, which were reported by the Anti-Cyber Crime office.
On 22 September 2016, the Public Prosecution issued an order to imprison Al-Drees for 21 days in connection with a state security case. On 25 September 2016, Al-Drees surrendered herself voluntarily and was transferred to the central prison. She decided later on to start a hunger strike to protest her imprisonment.
Once again, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses grave concern with regard to restrictions on the right to freedom of expression in Kuwait, including the trial of Sarah Al-Drees over a tweet.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Kuwait to:
- Drop the charges against Sarah Al-Drees, as it violates the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and bloggers are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities and to exercise their right to freedom of expression 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 to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (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, which provides that “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.”