Blogger Musaed Al-Musallam facing extradition after Bosnia & Herzegovina reject asylum request
Kuwaiti blogger Musaed Al-Musallam asylum application has been rejected by Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he has been living, and now he is facing extradition to #Kuwait, where he has been sentenced to prison. @GulfCentre4HR https://t.co/TykBiXOwic— Linda Hemby (@LindaHemby) February 17, 2021
On 31st January 2021, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) reported that Musaed Al-Musallam, a noted Kuwaiti blogger, was at risk of being deported after being arrested at his home in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in April 2020 at the request of the Kuwaiti authorities. The three arresting officers identified themselves as members of INTERPOL. Al-Musallam was placed under house arrest and ordered to appear at his local police station every Monday. On 15th February 2020, Al-Musallam received a text message from the local Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) informing him that his asylum application had been rejected. The UNHCR stated that they would file a lawsuit at the Court in Bosnia and Herzegovina, requesting that the Court itself issue a decision on the asylum application. Al-Musallam is now facing extradition to Kuwait, where he faces multiple charges, all of which are related to his peaceful activities exercising his rights of expression and association, and could result in decades behind bars.
Previously, on 6th May 2019, the Criminal Court in Kuwait sentenced Al-Musallam in absentia to five years in prison with labour on charges of having “publicly insulted the Emir by writing about his rights and authority and insulted him and the Emir’s position by publishing the words and phrases shown in the court documents on his Twitter account.” He was further charged with “deliberately attacking” the Emir through “the means of telephone communication, to spread the obscene words and phrases indicated in the subject of the first charge.” Similarly, on 8th November 2015, the Security Criminal Court sentenced Al-Musallam to five years’ imprisonment with labour and enforcement on charges including “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.” He was also charged with possessing firearms and ammunition, even though the security forces only found an unused air rifle (which doesn’t fire live bullets). The Court of Cassation upheld this ruling in absentia on 27th May 2018.
#Kuwait: Human rights defender Hadeel Buqrais summoned to the Electronic & Cyber Crime Combatting Department https://t.co/euoaMDW31Z pic.twitter.com/L4ovYHqYos— GC4HR (@GulfCentre4HR) November 19, 2020
Separately, on 18th November 2020, human rights defender Hadeel Buqrais was summoned by the Electronic and Cyber Crime Combatting Department (ECCCD) in Kuwait. According to GCHR sources, the summons is related to several of her tweets defending civil and human rights in Kuwait, especially those of the Bedoon community. The authorities’ targeting of Buqrais’ support of the Bedoon community occurred around the same time as the Kuwait Government’s decision to extend by a year the mandate of an official agency that has consistently denied the rights of the stateless Bedoon people. Amnesty International condemned the Kuwait Cabinet’s decision on 11th November 2020 to renew the mandate of the Central System for the Remedy of the Situation of Illegal Residents for a year, stating: “Over the past decade, this agency has been responsible for violating the rights of the Bedoon people by denying them vital identity documents unless they agree to state that they and their families are not from Kuwait. Without these papers, scores of Bedoons are deprived of being able to get a job, go to school or access health care. They are condemned to a life of poverty and hardship on the margins of society.”
Buqrais will appear before the ECCCD at a time yet to be determined. However, she has been informed that she will not be permitted to be accompanied by a lawyer during the investigation. This runs contrary to international fair trial standards, as well as Article 75 of the Kuwaiti Code of Criminal Procedure and Trials (1960/17) which states: " the accused and defendant have the right to attend all preliminary investigation procedures, and each of them has the right to accompany his lawyer."
Civic Space Developments