Kuwait: Poet Jamal Al-Sayer is subjected to arbitrary arrest
On 05 July 2021, late at night, members of the State Security Apparatus arrested the poet Jamal Al-Sayer after they raided his house, by order of the Public Prosecution, which ordered his arrest and detention. A local legal expert told the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) that, “there was no need to raid his house late at night. The normal procedure was to summon him as he is a well-known public figure, and his place of residence is known for authorities.”
Reliable local sources confirmed that the only reason for his arbitrary arrest is that he addressed corruption in his poems and what he publishes on the Internet.
On 06 July 2021, press reports stated that the Public Prosecution was investigating him in connection with a case brought against him by the State Security Apparatus, and decided to continue his detention until tomorrow. He was charged with insulting the Emir (Head of State) and publishing tweets containing false news.
As soon as news of his arrest spread, bloggers, lawyers, writers and other citizens posted tweets declaring their solidarity with him and calling for his immediate release, within the following hashtag which trended on Twitter in Kuwait:
On 04 July 2021, he wrote on his Twitter account, a tweet that included a poem about corruption in the country, in which the following was stated, “Gifted to the corruption mafia, whom we will continue to observe!!
On 03 July 2021, he wrote a tweet that included the following, "Brothers, which Kuwaiti specialists do you advise we follow, who pursue (the Panama Papers....) and the Kuwaiti personalities involved in them, so that we know what is going on despite the blackout on the issue."
His account has more than 28,000 followers and his tweets get hundreds of endorsements.
The poet Jamal Al-Sayer is a widely known literary figure in Kuwait due to his patriotic stance that he embodied through his poetry and other prose writings, that express his love for the homeland, his defense of the civil and human rights of citizens and his fight against rampant corruption in the country. Al-Sayer’s arrest and detention comes in a case of opinion, although
Al-Sayer’s arrest and detention comes in relation to his opinions, although the Kuwaiti National Assembly decided on 30 March 2021 to abolish pretrial detention in cases of expressing opinions and publishing through the media and social media. This decision was published in the Official Gazette on 12 April 2021 and became effective from this date.
GCHR announces its full solidarity with the poet Jamal Al-Sayer, and denounces the Public Prosecution's use of its powers in a flagrant and arbitrary manner against a citizen who did not violate the law, but rather expressed his views in a civilized and peaceful manner, and whose aim was to see an end to corruption in his country. GCHR calls on the authorities in Kuwait to release him immediately and unconditionally in addition to drop all false charges against him. The authorities in Kuwait must respect the general freedoms of its citizens, in particular freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.