Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1998 - Kuwait, 1 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9f640.html [accessed 26 May 2013]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
(This report covers the period January-December 1997)Over 120 people, including prisoners of conscience, continued to serve prison terms imposed after unfair trials since 1991. The status of scores of other political prisoners arrested at the same time remained unclear. Twelve political prisoners, including four prisoners of conscience, were released in an amnesty. There were allegations of ill-treatment of political prisoners. The fate and whereabouts of more than 70 detainees who "disappeared" in custody in 1991 remained unknown. Five people were sentenced to death, two people were executed and 17 others convicted in previous years remained under sentence of death at the end of the year. A parliamentary committee charged with reviewing the status of over 100,000 stateless people, members of the Bidun community (see Amnesty International Report 1997), was reported to have stated in May that unless a solution was found, the number of Bidun in Kuwait could rise to 200,000 by the year 2006. The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance presented his report on Kuwait to the 53rd session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Among other things, he recommended that " priority should be given to finding a definitive, humane and equitable solution to the problems of Bidun, some of whom appear to be stateless in their own country". More than 120 political prisoners, including at least 12 prisoners of conscience, continued to serve prison terms in Kuwait Central Prison following their conviction on charges of "collaboration" with Iraqi forces during the occupation of Kuwait. They included nine women. The prisoners had been sentenced by the Martial Law Court and the State Security Court following unfair trials held since 1991 (see previous Amnesty International Reports). No information was available on scores of other political prisoners arrested in 1991 on suspicion of "collaboration" with Iraqi forces. A communication received from the Human Rights Committee of the Interior Ministry in August denied that there were any political prisoners in Kuwait. It also sought to justify the verdicts handed down by the Martial Law Court and the State Security Court following unfair trials, stating that the government offered legal safeguards for "fair and just trials in accordance with international standards". Twelve political prisoners, including four prisoners of conscience of Jordanian nationality, were released in March following an amnesty granted by the Amir, al-Shaikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah. The four prisoners of conscience had been accused of "collaboration" as employees of the Iraqi occupation newspaper al-Nida, and sentenced in 1991 by the Martial Law Court to terms of imprisonment ranging from 10 years to life (see Amnesty International Report 1992) Hussein Qambar Ali, who had been declared an apostate and stripped of his civil rights by an Islamic court in May 1996 following his conversion to Christianity (see Amnesty International Report 1997), was reported to have returned to Kuwait and declared himself a Muslim. According to reports, several political prisoners of Jordanian nationality held in Kuwait Central Prison were severely beaten on 22 January, apparently by Kuwaiti law enforcement officials wielding sticks. The beatings reportedly lasted several hours. The incident followed disturbances in the prison on 12 and 14 January, after tighter security measures were introduced in the wake of previous prison escapes and disturbances. At least four prisoners, including Zuhayr Omar Saleh and Ma'moun Mohammad Ahmed, were said to have been hospitalized with injuries consistent with beatings. There was no indication of an independent and impartial investigation into these allegations, as required by the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Kuwait ratified in March 1996. The fate and whereabouts of more than 70 detainees who "disappeared" in custody in 1991 remained unknown (see previous Amnesty International Reports). The Interior Ministry's August communication stated that the authorities were continuing to work towards establishing the whereabouts of these people, and that they would inform Amnesty International of any results Two Iranian nationals convicted of drug smuggling, a Saudi Arabian national convicted of murder and rape, and two Kuwaitis convicted of murder were sentenced to death. Two Egyptian nationals, Hassan Mohamed Helal and Hamdi Abdal Khalil, were executed in September. They had been convicted of premeditated murder. At least eight political prisoners convicted since 1993 by the State Security Court remained under sentence of death. Nine people convicted by criminal courts in previous years were also believed to be under sentence of death at the end of the year. Amnesty International welcomed the release of 12 political prisoners, including four prisoners of conscience. Among other things, the organization urged the authorities to release all remaining prisoners of conscience and to carry out a judicial review of the cases of prisoners convicted after unfair trials before the Martial Law Court and the State Security Court. Amnesty International received a communication from the Interior Ministry, but this failed to provide detailed information about cases raised by the organization or to allay its continuing concerns about human rights violations in the country.