On 20 September, the Misdemeanours Court of Cassation upheld a sentence of one year’s imprisonment and deportation of ‘Abdulhakim al-Fadhli, a defender of the rights of the stateless Bidun community in Kuwait, for charges relating to a peaceful demonstration held in 2012. On 24 September, ‘Abdulhakim al-Fadhli turned himself over to the authorities. He is a prisoner of conscience.
In a letter to Amnesty International dated 10 March 2016, the government of Kuwait stated that ‘Abdulhakim al-Fadhli “incited and directed [others] to participate in gathering in a public square in Taima in 2012… through his twitter account”, a gathering whose purpose was to call for citizenship rights for Kuwait’s stateless Bidun community. The letter stated that a lower criminal court had sentenced him in his absence on 29 January 2015 to one year’s imprisonment followed by deportation and that, on 3 February 2015, an appeal court had rejected his appeal. The Supreme Judicial Council subsequently converted the case to a misdemeanour. On 20 September 2016, the Misdemeanours Court of Cassation upheld the conviction of one year’s imprisonment to be followed by deportation. Rather than be arrested, ‘Abdulhakim al-Fadhli turned himself in and was taken to the Central Jail.
The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) noted in August 2016 that the law relating to gatherings, on which ‘Abdulhakim al-Fadhli’s arrest is partially based, was flawed since it does not permit non-Kuwaitis, such as the Bidun, the right of peaceful assembly. Amnesty International considers ‘Abdulhakim al-Fadhli a prisoner of conscience. His prosecution for tweets posted in connection with a peaceful gathering on 10 December 2012 in a defined, open space – the main square in Taima, west of Kuwait City – violates his rights under Article 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Kuwait is a state party.
The HRC observed that the government of Kuwait restricts the Bidun community’s right to peaceful assembly, opinion and expression and has offered many people “economic citizenship” in exchange for residency rights. It has not provided any independent process by which the Bidun can obtain citizenship. The government has not stated to which place it would deport ‘Abdulhakim al-Fadhli.
1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
Calling on the Kuwaiti authorities to immediately and unconditionally release ‘Abdulhakim al-Fadhli, and overturn his deportation order, as he is a prisoner of conscience, being punished solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly;
Urging them to review all laws that impinge upon the right to freedom of expression and assembly, and amend, and where necessary repeal, these laws to ensure and facilitate the effective exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly in accordance with Kuwait’s international human rights obligations and commitments.
Contact these 2 officials by 17 November, 2016:
Amir of the State of Kuwait
His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad
al-Jaber Al Sabah
Al Diwan Al Amiri, P.O. Box 1,
al-Safat 13001, Kuwait
Fax: +965 2243 0559
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Your Highness
Ambassador Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Embassy of the State of Kuwait
2940 Tilden St. NW., Washington DC 20008
T: 202.966.0702 | F: 202.364.2868 | Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
2) LET US KNOW YOU TOOK ACTION
Here’s why it is so important to report your actions: we record the number of actions taken on each case and use that information in our advocacy. Either email [email protected] with “UA 102/16” in the subject line or click this link.