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Courts fine member of parliament, journalist and two newspapers for articles critical of the prime minister

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 8 March 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has said that 7 March 2010 was a gloomy day for freedom of opinion and expression in Kuwait. Two court sentences were issued against a member of parliament, a journalist and two newspapers, fining each KD 3,000 (about US$10,500) for articles that were critical of the prime minister. The government considered the articles to be abusive since the prime minister is a member of the royal family.

The first sentence was against writer and MP Mohamed Hayef AlMetairy, due to declarations published in the "AlRouia" newspaper in which he criticized the Kuwaiti prime minister. The Kuwaiti government considered those declarations abusive to the royal family and the court fined the writer and the newspaper KD 3,000 each.

The second sentence was against the renowned opposition journalist Mohamed Abd AlKader Jasim, as a result of an article published in the "AlAlam AlYoum" newspaper that was also critical of the prime minister. Insisting on his position, Jasim refused to pay bail and chose to stay in custody for ten days pending investigation. Eventually he and the newspaper were penalized KD 3,000 each.

Gamal Eid, ANHRI's executive director, said, "The Kuwaiti government proved to be no exception among Arab governments hostile to freedom of the press and expression. These penalties have completely ruined the good image that the Kuwaiti government has worked hard to establish as a state that respects press freedom. We deeply hope that the Kuwaiti judiciary, in appeal hearings, will affirm that government officials in any post are subject to criticism, even if they are members of the royal family".
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