Today, a Kuwaiti court’s decision to sentence three former opposition leaders to three years hard labor for criticizing the emir signals a continuation of the government’s crackdown on dissent spurred by rising political unrest. The former parliament members, Falah al-Sawwagh, Bader al-Dahoum and Khaled al-Tahous, were unjustly charged after making speeches opposing changes to Kuwait’s voting laws.
The decision by Kuwait’s Interior Ministry to ban ‘unlicensed’ peaceful demonstrations is worrisome and is an indicator of the deteriorating conditions for free expression and assembly in Kuwait. Authorities must reverse the ban on ‘unlicensed’ demonstrations and implement policies that ensure free speech and assembly without fear of prosecution.
Despite continuing resistance from religious and cultural elites, women in the Middle East and North Africa have made modest progress in achieving certain rights over the past five years. While women in the region suffer from greater inequality than do women elsewhere, they now enjoy more economic opportunity, fewer barriers to education, and expanded ability to participate in the political process than they did five years ago. These are the conclusions of Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, a new study released today by Freedom House.
Freedom House applauds the election of women to the Kuwaiti parliament for the first time and urges them to be strong advocates for the expansion of democracy and human rights as new members of the 50-person body.