Association

Article 43 of the Kuwaiti Constitution guarantees the right to establish associations and trade unions. This right is severely constrained in practice by government’s use of legislation to suppress independent assessments of its human rights record. Law 24 of 1962 is the primary legal instrument regulating the operations of civil society and it gives government excessive power to limit the work of CSOs. Under this law, all CSOs must register with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. But selective politics is used to deny registration to CSOs that are too critical of the state. CSOs can also be denied registration if the state deems they are not set up to provide a “public service” or that proposed activities are already being carried out by other CSOs. Organisations are also prohibited from taking part in political activities and have to seek approval to participate in foreign events and conferences. Two of Kuwait’s leading human rights groups, the Kuwaiti Bedoun Gathering and the Kuwaiti Bedoun Committee, are regularly subjected to unwarranted harassment and intimidation and in 2012 faced various charges including being accused of “forming a secret organisation”. Torture and other degrading treatment is used against human rights defenders while in detention. The courts also strip activists of citizenship as punishment and bar activists from undertaking international travel.