Rashed Saleh Al-Enezi has been sentenced to a two year jail sentence for writing tweets that criticized Amir Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Enezi is a political adversary of the Amir, which is likely the reason he was the first chosen to be prosecuted under new Kuwaiti laws against criticizing the Amir.
According to court papers, Enezi had made the tweets on October 30 and he did not mention HH the Amir or his name in the tweet, but the court said that it was understood from the tweet that he meant to insult the Amir. Enezi, a youth opposition activist, had categorically denied that he meant the Amir in his tweet.
Enezi, however, is not the only one who is subject to a jail sentence. He is simply one of the first to be convicted.
It was the first ruling by the criminal court against a youth opposition activist since the government began clamping down on the opposition in September. A large number of youth activists and former opposition lawmakers are facing similar charges in court and the verdicts are expected to be issued within the coming few weeks.
Today, the court is slated to issue its verdicts against Osama Al-Munawer, a member of the scrapped national assembly, and Ayyad Al-Harbi, a youth activist, who were tried on similar charges of undermining the status of HH the Amir and criticizing him.
Under Kuwaiti law, HH the Amir is protected and criticizing him in public is a state security offense for which defendants face a jail term of up to five years. Among those facing similar charges are opposition figure and former lawmaker Mussallam Al-Barrak, former lawmakers Faisal Al-Muslim, Falah Al-Sawwagh and others.
There are dozens of others that are also being prosecuted, simply for stating what they think and criticizing their Amir. Criticizing the Amir will only get worse under the new assembly. They intend to strengthen laws that were weakened under the old assembly.
…a number of MPs in new assembly have submitted a draft law to increase the periods of detention that can be ordered by the public prosecution or court, in a bid to reverse a law passed by the scrapped assembly in which such periods were drastically reduced.
Under the amendment approved by the scrapped assembly, no arrested person can be kept in a police station for more than two days or a maximum of two days by the public prosecution and just 10 days by court. The new proposal calls to reverse the detention period to before the amendment which are: four days in the police station, one week by the public prosecution and 21 days by the court.
Kuwait isn’t the only country who has taken a stance against prosecuting people for their tweets. A British man was jailed for 56 days last year over racist tweets that he made. While his tweets were far worse than anything Enezi said, he received far less jail time for what he said.