Although Article 36 of Constitution provides for the right to hold opinions and exercise free expression, other provisions of the Constitution and other broad and vague laws such as the Printing and Publication Law, Misuse of Telephone Communications and Bugging Devices Law are used to silence dissent and journalists. The state owns much of the broadcast media although there is some private ownership too. Although Kuwaiti journalists are considered among those with better freedom in the region, vague laws allow for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to ban any media outlet at the request of the Ministry of Information and journalists are careful not to cross the line by criticising the Emir who is protected under section 54 of the Constitution. A journalist was arrested in 2015 for criticising the judiciary after he questioned a judgement on social media in which activists were sentenced in absentia. The Press and Publications Law, revised in 2006, criminalises the publication of information deemed offensive to God or Islam, criticism of the Emir, calling for the overthrow of the regime, and the release of secret material. In September 2012, the Ministry of Information closed pro-opposition television station, El-Nahg, 24 hours after its launch. Two months later, the government also shut down al-Youm, a private television station, for “failing to meet administrative conditions”. The newspaper, Al-Dar, has been routinely suspended for "undermining national unity". The same newspaper’s editor-in-chief Abdul Hussein al-Sultan, was sentenced to a six-month prison term for publishing articles to incite violence. A member of the national committee which records violations against free expression was slapped with an international ban. A new law came into effect in January 2016 to regulate online newspapers and platforms and the state bars some websites for “moral reasons”. Ordinary citizens are also often charged for posting on social media including Twitter and Facebook under the new law and the broad 1970 penal code for tarnishing the royal family.
Civic Space Developments