Rights group condemns Kuwait’s Twitter jail terms

Middle East director of Human Rights Watch has criticised ongoing jail sentences

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Rights group condemns Kuwait’s Twitter jail terms Human Rights Watch has spoken out against Kuwait’s pattern of sentencing for comments made on Twitter. ()
By  Courtney Trenwith Published  July 24, 2013

The Middle East director of Human Rights Watch has criticised the ongoing jail sentences for Twitter users in Kuwait.

Joe Stork said in a post published on the international human rights group's website on Sunday that the Gulf state was unfairly punishing people who made political statements.

"The Kuwait authorities over the past year have prosecuted dozens of people for peaceful political statements," Stork, who is acting in the position, said.

"The government should tolerate this kind of criticism, not persecute people who dare express it.

"The government should drop charges against those accused or convicted of crimes solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and it should amend Kuwait's criminal code to remove the crime of ‘offending the emir'."

Last week a Kuwaiti appeal court upheld a 20-month prison sentence for female teacher Sara al-Drees, 26, charged with offending the Emir in four comments posted on Twitter.

She is free on bail awaiting the outcome of a further appeal to the country's highest court.

Ironically, according to HRW, the fourth tweet that offended the authorities said: "This is sort of making fool of the people and treating them with disregard, as if they are all stupid and should not oppose the government. Hear and obey even if you were oppressed in broad daylight. The people are insulted throughout their own law."

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