Kuwait: Chairman and members of charitable committee arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned without charge

18.11.21

According to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the State Security Bureau arrested the head of a charitable committee in addition to seven of its members, and have held them since then without charge, despite their ill health.

Between 04 and 08 November 2021, 72-year-old charity worker Habib Ghazanfari (main photo) was arrested. He heads a charitable committee that collects and distributes donations to orphans, people with special needs, the elderly, and poor families. The following seven members were also arrested: Jassem Dashti, 68 years old, Mousa Al-Masri, 68 years old, Khaled Al-Baghli, 61 years old, Adel Dashti, 57 years old, Jamal Al-Shatti, 57 years old, Anwar Al-Hazeem, 60 years old, and Jalal Jamal, 50 years old.

Local sources confirmed that they are facing charges of terrorism and money laundering. The Public Prosecution has not yet brought any formal charges against them.

Despite their old age, they were subjected to widespread violations of their civil and human rights, as they were arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned despite their charitable work for nearly 30 years.

The violations against them include the following:

1. Being arrested and imprisoned arbitrarily and without a judicial order by the State Security Bureau, and placed in a prison affiliated with the state security;

2. Being investigated within the first five days without the presence of their lawyers, in clear violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure;

3. Being interrogated by the Public Prosecution office repeatedly, starting at 2:00 pm and ending at 10:30 the next morning, followed immediately by investigations conducted by members of the State Security Bureau, without taking into account their old age and the fact that they suffer from chronic diseases;

4. Not being allowed to make any phone calls to their families or receive visits.

Citizens in Kuwait expressed their solidarity with the head of the Charitable Committee and its detained members on social media networks, including Twitter, through the following hashtag: #charity_work_honor

GCHR condemns the arbitrary arrest and detention of the head and members of this charitable committee, as well as the grave violations they were subjected to after their arrest. GCHR calls on the Kuwaiti government to release them immediately and unconditionally because charitable work is not a crime that can be punished by Kuwaiti law. The Public Prosecution must immediately announce any accusations it intends to bring against them, and allow the judiciary to judge this matter in a fair manner, rather than the State Security Bureau. Otherwise, the Public Prosecution, in addition to the State Security Bureau, bears full responsibility for all the damages they incurred as a result of the deprivation of their freedom.