The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has published a report on the human rights situation in Kuwait. The report entitled “Dignity has No Price in Kuwait” examines the restrictions placed on freedom of expression, the misuse of the judicial system to attack human rights defenders, in particular those advocating for the rights of the Bidoon community, and the on-going failure and lack of will to resolve the plight of these  people without citizenship who account for over 100,000 of the population.

Author of the report, lawyer  and GCHR advisory board member Melanie Gingell stated that “ the ongoing government failure to address the citizenship claims of the Bidoon is a travesty which blights the lives of thousands of ordinary men, women and children in Kuwait. A settlement of this situation is long overdue. “

Kuwait has seen large scale protests in recent years, which have been met with excessive use of force by state authorities, arbitrary arrests and baseless charges. Protests have taken place in relation to political opposition, the passage of laws disenfranchising the electorate and the lack of rights of the Bidoon. Human rights defenders, some of whom were not even at such protests, have been arrested and charged in relation to these demonstrations in clear violation of the right to peaceful assembly.  

Human rights defenders, including lawyers and journalists face on-going trials on trumped-up charges which have little adherence to international judicial fair procedures. Many go about their peaceful human rights activities under fear of being intimidated, harassed, detained and tortured. Early this year prominent Bidoon activists were arrested and tortured while in detention. Allegations of such torture have fallen on deaf ears and remain uninvestigated.

The report outlines how despite being a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights  freedom of expression is severely curtailed in Kuwait and even criminalised by certain articles of the Penal Code.  Article 25 outlaws objecting  to the  rights and authorities of the Emir and article 111 criminalises  anyone ‘who mocks God the prophets and messengers, or the  honour of his messengers and their wives’.

The report issues a number of recommendations to the authorities in order to address the issues highlighted.  The GCHR calls on the Government  of Kuwait to  revoke articles 25 and 11 of the Penal Code, guarantee that detainees are afforded a fair trial  in accordance with international  standards  and to resolve the situation of the Bidoon in Kuwait and grant them citizenship. 

According to Melanie Gingell “There is an appetite for change in Kuwait which has been increasingly expressed since 2011. This has been met with repression and instead should be encouraged and explored so that a freer, more just society can be established, where there is greater respect for the promotion and protection of human rights for all including the Bidoon people.”    

The full report is available HERE.