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Kuwait bans unlicensed peaceful protests

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 23 October 2012 - ANHRI condemns a decision issued by the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry to ban unlicensed peaceful assemblies and demonstrations, which ANHRI considers to be a violation of citizens' basic right to express an opinion peacefully.

The Ministry's 22 October announcement states that assemblies of more than 20 people in a public area without a license from the appropriate governor and the Ministry of the Interior are banned. Police officers have the right to prevent and resolve any unlicensed assembly as well as the right to attend licensed rallies and disperse them in case they deem those rallies a breach of security, a threat to public order, and/or contrary to public morals.

Kuwaiti authorities announced the ban following the events of 21 October, known as the march of 'the nation's dignity', where demonstrators expressed their objections to possible changes in the electoral law.

The Ministry has decided to release all those detained at the march but did not drop the charges pressed against them, including organizing unlicensed marches, participating in riots, and resisting arrest.

"The decision issued by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior to ban marches and peaceful assemblies is a clear violation of freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peacefully demonstrate, which are guaranteed by all the international treaties and conventions signed by Kuwait. [The ban] represents a new attempt to legitimize the repeated attacks on peaceful demonstrations, which have increased recently, in an attempt to silence the voices that call for political and social reforms in the country," said ANHRI.

ANHRI added that "the Kuwaiti government must review and revoke such an arbitrary law if it desires to change its image abroad."


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