Kuwait: Kuwait: Court of Cassation refused to declare the verdict for human rights defender Sulaiman Bin Jassim and 33 others accused of storming of the National Assembly
On 08 July 2018, the Kuwaiti Court of Cassation issued its judgement in the case involving the storming of the National Assembly in 2011, which included prison sentences for two current deputies and six former deputies, including opposition leader Musallam Al-Barrak. Also, the Court of Cassation refused to declare the verdict against 34 defendants including human rights defender Suleiman bin Jassem but they have received fines, while another 10 defendants were acquitted of all charges.
Among those sentenced to prison, 13 defendants received three-and-a-half years in prison with labour and three others were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with labour. Jassim and the 33 other defendants were ordered to pay a 1,000 KD fine (approx. USD$3,300) in addition to being ordered to make a one-year commitment to maintain good conduct.
On 27 November 2017, the Court of Appeal sentenced 67 people to prison for storming the National Assembly on 16 November 2011, including Bin Jassim, Al-Barrak, and other current and former members of parliament.
On 18 February 2018, the Court of Cassation ordered the release of Bin Jassim and the other defendants, pending its verdict, which was postponed a few times. Prison sentences were already suspended against some of the 67 defendants, leaving only 38 of the group who were held in the Central Prison to be released after the ruling.
Bin Jassim, who is co-founder of the National Committee for Monitoring Violations (NCV), was sentenced to seven 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.
For more information on the trial proceedings, see: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1859
While welcoming the release of some of the defendants, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) urges the authorities in Kuwait to:
- Immediately and unconditionally revoke all the prison sentences, which are in violation of the right to freedom of assembly;
- Stop targeting human rights defender Suleiman bin Jassem immediately;
- Ensure that the Court of Cassation’s Prosecutor and the judiciary in general are meeting international standards of fair trial and due process in all their work including cases that involve human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience; and
- 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.”