Kuwait: Kuwait: Authorities continue to target human rights defenders
On 29 January 2015, two human rights defenders in Kuwait were targeted in relation to their peaceful human rights activities. Human rights defender Mohammed Al-Ajmi was charged over tweets deemed insulting to Saudi Arabia. The same day, Bedoon human rights activist Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli was sentenced to a year in prison followed by deportation.
On 28 January, Mohammed Al-Ajmi, a member of the National Committee for Monitoring Violations (NCV), was taken forcibly by a group of unidentified men to an unknown location. After a few hours, the family got a telephone call from the State Security Apparatus asking for medications to be delivered to Al-Ajmi, which the family did without being given access to him.
Reports indicate that on 29 January Al-Ajmi was transferred from the State Security Apparatus Headquarters to the Public Prosecution for investigation, without being given access to a lawyer. Following the investigation, he was charged based on article 4 of the External State Security Act for tweeting what authorities described as insulting to Saudi Arabia. If Al-Ajmi is convicted the article provides for imprisonment of three years.
Information received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirms that Al-Ajmi has been sent back to the State Security Apparatus and his detention extended until Sunday, 1 February 2015.
Also, on 29 January 2015, the Criminal Court in Kuwait sentenced Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli to one year in prison with hard labour. The court also decided not to accept bail from him and to serve a deportation order sending him outside the country once he has served the imprisonment. (For background, see https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/737).
The imprisonment is related to many charges including allegedly attacking and using force against police officers on duty, wounding some of them, and calling for an illegal demonstration in order to breach security.
Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli is a Bedoon human rights activist as well as being involved in monitoring human rights violations in Kuwait while Mohammed Al-Ajmi is known for his activities in monitoring human rights violations as well.
The GCHR is gravely concerned that the targeting of human rights defenders in Kuwait including Al-Ajmi and Al-Fadhli is part of an on-going trend of limiting the space in which human rights defenders and online activists can conduct their legitimate and peaceful activities.
The GCHR urges the government of Kuwait to:
- Immediately end the judicial harassment of Al-Ajmi, Al-Fadhli and other human rights defenders, for all charges against them to be dropped, and for an end to the exploitation of the judicial system for political purposes;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Kuwait are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of restrictions.
The 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 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters;” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “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.”