NGO faces shut down, as blogger is sentenced for tweet

Association

Human rights defenders and civil society organisations have been targeted in recent months by the Kuwaiti authorities. On 28th June 2018, the Board of directors of the Kuwait Al-Huriah (Freedom) Society was suddenly dissolved following a decision by the Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, Hind Sabih. The minister also appointed a temporary board of directors for six months to run the association. No justification for the dissolution was issued by the authorities. Although the reasons for its dissolution are unclear, sources indicate that the dissolution may have been based on alleged "violation the system of the society". However, many Kuwaiti rights activists also believe that the dissolution may have been related to a tweet by a member that was interpreted by authorities as encroachment upon Islamic Sharia law. The following week, a member of the society was detained by authorities.

Expression

On 13th August 2018, human rights lawyer Abeer Al-Haddad received a high number of threats due to a tweet she had published, in relation to her ongoing defence of the civil and human rights of the Bedoon community in Kuwait. In her tweet, Abeer had expressed her intention to sue Saleh Al-Fadala, the Minister for the Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents’ Affairs, on the basis that he was in that position illegally.

The Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents’ Affairs has been criticized for failing to address the situation of Bedoon community, with some observers saying it has only acted to complicate the lives of the community members. The Bedoon are a stateless Arab minority in Kuwait who were not included as citizens at the time of the country’s independence or shortly thereafter. They have over the years been categorised as ‘illegal residents,’ despite the fact that many have no real connections to any country other than Kuwait,

In separate developments, on 2nd July 2018, blogger Anwar Dashti, a member of the Kuwait Al-Huriah Society, surrendered himself to the Central Prison Administration in order to serve a six-month prison sentence for a tweet he posted. Dashti who was active in the “#tweeting is not a crime” campaign, had apologised for what he wrote in subsequent tweets in order to avoid anymisperception, but was still sentenced.