Kuwait ends pretrial jail time for freedom of opinion

Kuwait approves law ending pretrial jail time for freedom of opinion cases
2 min read
06 April, 2021
Critics say the move will have little impact in protecting free speech in Kuwait.
Critics say the new law is futile [Getty]
Kuwait has ended pretrial jail time for those arrested for voicing their opinion.

Kuwait on Monday amended its freedom of speech laws to say that anyone who will stand trial on grounds of expression will not be detained before their trial.

The government's approval of this law comes as part of its attempt to reduce tension with parliament, which has listed a number of priorities to address.

The most notable issues in parliament at present are forming a comprehensive amnesty law, the prohibition of pre-trial detention in cases of speech, the amendment of the internal regulations in the National Assembly, and the amendment and limitation of the powers of the Constitutional Court.

Read also: Kuwait government drops threat to prosecute lawmakers for breaking Covid-19 rules on gatherings

The country’s opposition boycotted the parliamentary session and rejected the amendments, describing them as an attempt by the government to circumvent key popular demands and create a smokescreen.

Legal experts and professors at Kuwait University’s Law Department said the amendments will not protect freedom of speech, because the law provides for the abolition of the pretrial detention penalty during investigation only.

This means if a defendant is convicted, they will still be punished for voicing their opinion – a fundamental restriction in freedom of speech.

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