Over 300 political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, all arrested in 1991 and accused of "collaboration" with Iraqi forces during the occupation of Kuwait, remained held. They included over 160 people serving prison terms imposed after unfair trials since 1991 and up to 150 people who remained in custody awaiting trial. The fate and whereabouts of at least 70 detainees who "disappeared" in custody in 1991 remained unknown. Four people were sentenced to death and three people were executed. Thirteen people remained on death row at the end of the year. A group of 150 Iraqi nationals was summarily deported without having access to any asylum determination procedure. In April the National Assembly passed an amendment to the Law on the Combat of Drugs (No. 74 of 1983) introducing the death penalty for certain drugs-related offences (see Amnesty International Report 1995). Under the new measure, the death sentence became mandatory for people convicted of using children to trade in narcotics, for officials assigned to fight the use of narcotics convicted of trading in drugs, and for people repeatedly convicted of trading in drugs. Previously, the only capital offence under this legislation was the killing of an official entrusted with enforcement of this law. A bill to abolish the State Security Court, which had been in existence for 26 years, was approved by the National Assembly in August. The bill was later ratified by the Amir, al-Shaikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, and came into force in mid-September. All outstanding cases due to be tried before the State Security Court were transferred to criminal courts. Since 1992 the State Security Court had tried the cases of all alleged "collaborators" with Iraqi forces during the occupation of Kuwait and also of those accused of an assassination attempt on the former US President, George Bush, during his visit to Kuwait in 1993 (see below). The authorities held a series of meetings with representatives of the Government of Iraq concerning the fate of more than 600 Kuwaitis and third-country nationals missing and believed to have been held in Iraq since the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991 (see Amnesty International Reports 1994 and 1995). The General Manager of Kuwait's National Committee for Missing and Prisoners of War Affairs stated in a press interview in October that Iraqi officials had admitted taking 126 prisoners to Iraq and that they subsequently lost trace of them during the uprising in Iraq in March 1991. The bodies of two prisoners who died in custody in Iraq were returned to their families in Kuwait and the body of a third prisoner was expected to be returned after confirmation of his identity. The Iraqi Government continued to deny holding any Kuwaiti prisoners (see Iraq entry). Over 160 political prisoners, including 13 women, continued to serve prison terms in Kuwait Central Prison following their conviction on charges of "collaboration" with Iraqi forces during the occupation of Kuwait. At least 20 were prisoners of conscience. Fifty-nine had been sentenced by the Martial Law Court in 1991 and the others by the State Security Court in 1992 and 1993 after trials which did not satisfy international standards for fair trial (see Amnesty International Reports 1992 to 1995). No information was available about up to 150 other political prisoners, including possible prisoners of conscience, arrested in 1991 on suspicion of "collaboration" with Iraqi forces, or about the precise number of detainees awaiting trial or how many had been brought to trial during the year. Ten prisoners of conscience were reported to have started a hunger-strike on 14 February which was later joined by at least 25 political prisoners. All were said to be protesting against their continued detention after manifestly unfair trials before the Martial Law Court and the State Security Court. The main hunger-strike lasted about a month, although some prisoners continued to take only water and minimum nourishment for several weeks longer. The fate and whereabouts of 70 detainees who "disappeared" in custody in 1991 remained unknown. Information came to light about eight people reported to have "disappeared" after their arrest in 1991. A Palestinian, ‘Isam Muhammad Ahmad Saleh Qasem al-‘Udwani, was reported to have "disappeared" in custody. He was believed to have been held in a State Security prison after his arrest in the aftermath of the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. In November 1995 unconfirmed reports suggested that he was being held in Kuwait Central Prison. The fate and whereabouts of at least 62 Palestinians, Jordanians, Iraqis and other nationals who "disappeared" in custody between February and June 1991 remained unknown at the end of the year (see Amnesty International Reports 1991 to 1995). Three people were executed during the year. Muhammad Najib, a Filipino national convicted of the murder of an Iranian merchant, was executed in April. Ahmad al-‘Azmi was executed in July following his conviction for the murder of the bridegroom at a wedding party. Muhammad Rifa‘, a Turkish national, was executed in September following his conviction for the murder of a woman. At least eight political prisoners sentenced to death in previous years remained on death row. In March the Court of Cassation upheld the death sentences passed on two Iraqi men, Ra‘ad ‘Abd al-Amir ‘Abbud al-Asadi and Wali ‘Abd al-Hadi ‘Abd al-Hassan al-Ghazali. They were among six people, five Iraqi nationals and one Kuwaiti, sentenced to death in 1994 by the State Security Court. They had been convicted on charges of participating in an alleged assassination attempt on George Bush following trials which fell short of international fair trial standards (see Amnesty International Report 1995). Two of the six had their death sentences reduced to life imprisonment and another to 15 years' imprisonment. The sixth, a Kuwaiti national, had his conviction for attempted assassination overturned by the Court of Cassation. Six men of Iraqi nationality continued to wait for a review of their death sentences by the Court of Cassation. All had been sentenced to death by the State Security Court in 1992 and 1993 after being convicted of "collaboration" with Iraqi forces during the occupation of Kuwait (see Amnesty International Report 1994). At least five people convicted by criminal courts, three of them in previous years, were believed to be on death row at the end of the year. A group of more than 150 Iraqi nationals was reportedly arrested and summarily deported by the authorities in early July without being given any access to an asylum determination procedure as required by international standards. They were believed to have been deported to Iran. It was alleged that no examination of asylum applications or screening procedures was carried out, either on a group or individual basis, before the deportations and that representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees were denied access to the group. Following reports of the impending abolition of the State Security Court, Amnesty International reiterated its call for a judicial review of the cases of all those who had been convicted by this court and by the Martial Law Court. Amnesty International asked the Amir not to ratify any death sentences upheld by the Court of Cassation. Amnesty International welcomed the proposals by the government for the future ratification of several UN treaties safeguarding human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Amnesty International expressed its grave concern about the introduction of the death penalty for certain drugs-related offences and about the number of executions following convictions for other offences. The organization also raised its concerns about the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers and urged the authorities to ensure that such persons had access to a full and fair asylum determination procedure and were not returned to a country where they would be at risk of human rights violations. The Kuwaiti authorities repeatedly sought to justify the verdicts following unfair trials in previous years by the Martial Law Court and the State Security Court, but failed to address the substance of any of Amnesty International's continuing concerns.

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