Amnesty International Report 2003 - Kuwait
|Publication Date||28 May 2003|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2003 - Kuwait , 28 May 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3edb47d912.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
Covering events from January - December 2002
STATE OF KUWAIT
Head of state: al-Shaikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah
Head of government: al-Shaikh Sa'ad al-'Abdallah
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: signed
The effects of the attacks on 11 September 2001 in the USA continued to be felt in Kuwait. Dozens of men were detained on suspicion of involvement in "terrorist" activities. More than 30 political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, continued to be held; they had been convicted in manifestly unfair trials since 1991. The fate of more than 70 people who "disappeared" in custody in 1991 remained unknown. Four men were executed during 2002 and at least four others were sentenced to death. There were reports of torture, none of which appeared to have been independently investigated.
Aftermath of 11 September 2001
In April, men returning from Afghanistan and Pakistan were reportedly detained for a short period and then released without charge.
There was concern about the treatment of Kuwaiti detainees in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, (see USA entry). In July, a government-backed legal challenge to the detention in Guantánamo Bay of
12 Kuwaiti nationals was rejected by a court in Washington DC, USA.
Measures aimed at combating "terrorism" that were introduced by the government included financial controls and regulation of the activities of charitable organizations. Kuwait signed the Arab Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism in April 1998. AI is concerned that many provisions of the Arab Convention are in violation of international human rights standards and may be used to facilitate violations of human rights.
Dozens of men were reported to have been arrested in October, following attacks on US military personnel stationed in the country in advance of a widely expected attack on Iraq.
- On 8 October, a US marine was killed in an attack on the US base on the island of Failaka. The two Kuwaiti men reportedly involved in the attack – Anas Ahmad Ibrahim al-Kandari and Jassem Hamad Mubarak al-Hajeri – were subsequently killed by US forces. In response to this and other attacks on US forces, the Kuwaiti authorities reportedly questioned hundreds and arrested dozens of people believed to have links with al-Qa'ida. At least eight remained in detention at the end of the year and at least four were charged. According to their lawyer, Mohsen al-Fadli, Maqbool Fahad al-Maqbool, Mohammed al-Mutairi and Adel Yusif Buhaimed told the trial judge that they were innocent of all accusations. Their trial was continuing at the end of the year.
- On 15 October, the Kuwaiti security forces reportedly stormed the houses of Mohammad Youssef al-Malifi and Jaber al-Jalahima and arrested them. The two men were reportedly arrested following instructions from US security agencies, after they made statements to the media supporting the attacks which targeted US forces on the island of Failaka. The men faced charges, including "broadcasting propaganda at a time of war."
- On 21 November, two US soldiers were shot and seriously wounded as they were travelling from a US military base. A Kuwaiti police officer, Khaled Messier al-Shimmari, was accused of the shooting. He later fled to Saudi Arabia where he was arrested and deported to Kuwait. According to Kuwaiti officials, Khaled al-Shimmari reportedly suffers from mental health problems and was previously admitted to hospital for psychiatric treatment.
Four men were sentenced to death. One had been convicted of the murder of a woman journalist in March 2001. The three others, a Kuwaiti and two Saudi Arabian nationals, were convicted in July of the kidnapping, rape and murder of a six-year-old Bidun (stateless) girl in May. The three men reportedly told the court in the opening session that they had confessed under duress, but the court accepted the "confessions" in evidence.
Four men were executed, including three Bangladeshi nationals who were hanged in public on 30 June following their conviction for the rape and murder of a Sri Lankan woman. The men's bodies were left for "public viewing" for 10 minutes after their execution. The three men had reportedly been beaten several times during detention and denied medical attention for their injuries. One of their lawyers alleged that the men's "confessions" had been extracted under torture.
There were reports of torture, none of which appeared to have been independently investigated.
- Six Philippine nationals accused of the murder in October 2001 of a Canadian national were allegedly tortured during interrogation and there were fears that their confessions may have been forcibly extracted. They remained detained at the end of the year despite a court order for their release following the quashing of their convictions.
At least 30 political prisoners, mainly Iraqi nationals, including prisoners of conscience, who had been convicted following unfair trials since 1991, continued to be held. They were sentenced to be deported upon completion of their terms of imprisonment. In most cases, the expiry of the sentence or an amnesty effectively means that prisoners are transferred from prison to a deportation centre where they are held indefinitely.
The fate of more than 70 people who "disappeared" in custody in 1991 remained unknown.
Four prisoners of conscience of Palestinian origin were reportedly released in February under an amnesty granted by the Amir. In September, four political prisoners of Iraqi origin, including Ibtisam al-Dakhil and Intisar Rasan Khallati, were pardoned by the Amir. All eight reportedly continued to be held in a deportation centre at the end of the year.
The Constitutional Court rejected three new cases challenging the legality of the election laws, which deny women the right to vote. On 17 February, during annual voter registration, dozens of Kuwaiti women activists demanding their social and political rights, attempted to register for forthcoming elections. Officials told them that they had no authority to place women's names on voter lists.
AI country visits
AI visited Kuwait in February to carry out fact-finding and to interview the families of Kuwaitis held by US forces in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan.