Kuwait: Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should not hand over Musaed Al-Musallam to Kuwaiti authorities

31.01.21

On 09 April 2020, Musaed Al-Musallam, a noted Kuwait blogger, was arrested at his house in Sarajevo, the capital of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the request of the Kuwaiti Authorities. The three arresting officers identified themselves as members of INTERPOL. Al-Musallam was detained overnight, and then brought before the Sarajevo court. The judge placed him under house arrest and ordered him to sign in at the local police station every Monday. The Sarajevo Court will hold a hearing on 05 February 2021 to declare its ruling on the Kuwaiti authorities’ request for his extradition. As detailed below, the multiple convictions which could result in decades behind bars, are all for peacefully exercising his rights of expression or association.

On 06 May 2019, the Criminal Court sentenced Al-Musallam in absentia to five years in prison with labour and enforcement in the case of insulting the Emir (head of the state). The Public Prosecution charged him with "publicly insulting by writing about the rights and authority of the Emir and insulting him and the Emir’s position by publishing the words and phrases shown in the court documents on his Twitter account." Likewise, he "deliberately attacked him by using the means of telephone communication (mobile phone), to spread the obscene words and phrases indicated in the subject of the first charge.”

On 08 November 2015, the  Security Criminal Court sentenced Al-Musallam to five years’ imprisonment with labour and enforcement, where the Public Prosecution charged him with charges that include, “committing a hostile act against a foreign country (Saudi Arabia) in a public place, namely Twitter, through his personal account that proved in the investigations he wrote consistent phrases which would expose the State of Kuwait to severing political relations with Saudi Arabia”, as well as the charge of possessing firearms and ammunition, even though the security forces only found an air rifle (which doesn’t fire live bullets) that he never used. The Court of Cassation upheld this ruling in absentia on 27 May 2018, after he left the country.

On 26 April 2016, the Criminal Court decided in absentia to imprison him for a year with labour and enforcement in the case of "participation in a gathering."

On 24 December 2012, the Capital Prosecution released him on bail of 3000 Kuwaiti dinars after investigating the charges against him in connection with his participation in marches in a number of areas. The charges included participation in gatherings without a permit, resisting security officers, and failure to comply with orders of dispersing the gathering.

Al-Musallam told the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) that many prison sentences have been issued against him and that they total dozens of years. He stressed, “I have been targeted by the authorities in Kuwait with numerous cases since 2011 solely due to my peaceful and legitimate work in defense of citizens' civil rights, and humanity, including the Bedoon community in Kuwait."

Al-Musallam began his union work in 2004 when he and his colleagues Dr. Fahd Sayah Al-Dihani and Bandar Al-Nasafi established a union for workers in the Ministry of Endowments, which he left in 2008 to start participating in the public protests and demonstrations that took place in the following years until he left Kuwait legally in June 2015. Since 2017, he decided to live and work in Sarajevo, where he is working legally.

GCHR calls on all international mechanisms, in particular the United Nations mechanisms, to immediately and urgently intervene to prevent the deportation of the blogger Musaed Al-Musallam to Kuwait, because this would expose his life to imminent danger. GCHR urges the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to fulfill its obligations according to international human rights law and grant him the right to political asylum due to the need for immediate protection.