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Journalists and Online Commentators Face Persecution for Critical Reporting

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day in Rwanda may well require journalists, activists, and diplomats to toe the line of the government’s ever-growing list of forbidden topics. In a country where the president coolly gives speeches gloating about the…
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame speaks during the state funeral of Kenya’s former president, Daniel arap Moi, at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya, February 11, 2020.
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Peacefully Protested Their Lack of Fundamental Rights

(Beirut) – More than a dozen Bidun activists detained in Kuwait since July 2019 began a hunger strike on August 22 to protest human rights violations against themselves and the Bidun community, Human Rights Watch said today.…
Bidun residential area in Taima, al-Jahra, Kuwait.
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Stateless Bidun Planned Memorial After Member’s Suicide

(Beirut) – Kuwait’s State Security agency arrested at least 14 activists from the stateless Bidun community over the past week, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities arrested the activists after they organized a…
Bidun residential area in Taima, al-Jahra, Kuwait.
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Opportunity for Judiciary to Uphold Free Speech, Peaceful Assembly

A top Kuwaiti court has released on bail 44 people who had been convicted and imprisoned after protesting and calling for the country’s prime minister to resign in 2011—prosecutions that smacked of intimidation and retaliation for…
Kuwaitis protest outside the parliament building in Kuwait City November 16, 2011.
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Respond to Youth Demands, Gain Respect in the World

(Beirut) – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments can respond to the popular demands of the region’s youth for reform by implementing five changes in 2018 to arbitrary, outdated legal systems that infringe upon citizens’ rights and liberties,…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
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Summary The mayor said, “All thieves must be killed.” He said it was an order. −Witness to the execution of Fulgence Rukundo on December 6, 2016 Rwandan security forces summarily executed at least…
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Leading Bahraini Rights Activist Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

(Beirut) – Gulf governments have sustained their campaigns to silence peaceful critics during the first half of 2017, Human Rights Watch said today, updating an interactive website, created in November 2016, featuring targeted human rights activists. On…
Portraits of online activists in Gulf states.
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Norway Deported Nkusi, Who Faces Prosecution in Rwanda

Joseph Nkusi is a Rwandan blogger who has sharply criticized Rwanda’s government, made false and inflammatory claims about the 1994 genocide, and founded a radical opposition group while living in exile in Norway. Next Monday, he is slated to go on trial…
A general view of Rwanda's capital Kigali, March 26, 2014.
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Region-Wide Crackdown on Social Media Activism

(Beirut) – Gulf governments have attempted to silence peaceful critics in response to a wave of online activism in recent years, Human Rights Watch said in an interactive website that began operating today. The governments have responded to online…
Portraits of online activists in Gulf states.
News

Extends Problematic Press Provisions to Online Expression

(Beirut) – Kuwait’s new cybercrime law includes far-reaching restrictions on Internet-based speech that breach Kuwait’s obligations under international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said today. The National Assembly, which approved the law on June…
A lock icon, signifying an encrypted Internet connection, is seen on a browser in a photo illustration.
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Protesters Expected to Face Illegal Gathering Charges

(Beirut) – Kuwaiti authorities broke up an opposition protest in Kuwait City on March 23, 2015, and detained 16 protesters. Eleven of the protesters were released on March 25 and are expected to face charges of illegal gathering. Five remain in custody…
News

Updated in December 2014

(Updates highlighted in bold) Background There have been some encouraging reforms in Kuwait since its last UPR in 2010. For example, in January 2013 a judicial decision granted women the right to apply for posts as prosecutors, allowing them to…
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Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who is giving a speech at London’s Chatham House today, is viewed by his admirers as the man who saved the nation – who brought stability and rapid economic development to a country devastated by genocide now 20 years ago.…
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Amend Measure to Meet International Standards

(Sanaa) – Kuwait’s new telecommunications law gives the government sweeping powers to block content, deny access to the Internet, and revoke licenses without giving reasons. The government should amend the law to limit the restrictions on…
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Part of Broader Crackdown on People Pressing for Reform

  (Beirut) – Kuwaiti authorities have stripped five critics of their citizenship as part of a wider crackdown on people seeking reform. The Kuwaiti government should immediately restore their citizenship and end the practice. The official Kuwait News…
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Last week, Kuwaiti authorities announced that they will deport an Egyptian imam for criticizing the recent Egyptian elections. In a sermon given in a Kuwaiti mosque several days after the recent Egyptian presidential elections, Imam Sayed Faraj Abu Halima…
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Case Violates Free Expression, Movement

(Beirut) – A five-year prison sentence followed by permanent exile for a Kuwaiti activist over his Twitter comments violated the rights to free expression and movement. A Kuwait first instance court imposed the sentence on Abdullah Fairouz Abdullah Abd al…
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Upholds Restrictive Provision Used Against Journalists

(Beirut) – Kuwait’s Constitutional Court dealt a blow to free speech on December 2, 2013, in a case involving a journalist’s Twitter comments.The court rejected a challenge to article 25 of the penal code, which sets prison sentences of up to five years…
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Expanded Prosecutions Over Religion Debates

(Sanaa) – A Kuwaiti court on November 18, 2013, sentenced a Kuwaiti man to five years in prison for a Twitter comment about Sunni/Shia theology. The sentence in the Kuwaiti Court of First Instance against Musab Shamsah was the second in less than a month…
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Appeals Court Upholds Sentence for Insulting Rulers, the Prophet

(Beirut) –The Kuwaiti Court of Appeals on October 28, 2013, upheld a 10-year prison sentence for a local blogger’s comments on Twitter.  Hamad al-Naqi was sentenced for insulting the Prophet Mohammed and the kings of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, among other…