Kuwait: Alkarama submits to the UN the case of Salman Al Khaldi, social media activist convicted for his publications
On 6 November 2023, Alkarama submitted to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the case of Salman AL KHALDI, a Kuwaiti activist sentenced in absentia on 26 September 2023 to five years in prison by the Supreme Court for posts on social networks.
Arrest for publications
Known for his activism on social media, Salman AL KHALDI, regularly speaks out on human rights issues and condemns injustices and human rights violations in his home country, including violations of freedom of expression and the situation of "Bedoon" (stateless people).
On 26 September 2023, he was sentenced to five years in prison by the Supreme Court after being found guilty of "defaming" Saudi Arabia, spreading "false news" and "offending the emir" through the social media platform X (formerly "Twitter").
His conviction stems from tweets posted via his X account, @SalmanAl_Khald1, a flagrant violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Kuwait in 1996. The judgement reveals that AL KHALDI's X account was under the surveillance of a state security officer and that its broadcasts were listed to serve as evidence of his crimes.
During the trial, AL KHALDI's social media posts, in which he peacefully criticized the situation in his country, the judicial system and Kuwait's relations with Saudi Arabia, were all presented as evidence of his "crimes".
According to the judgement provided to the experts, his publications included expressions of attacks on the authority of the emirate, insults to the judiciary and false news likely to weaken the prestige of the State, in addition to constituting a "hostile act against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exposing the State of Kuwait to the risk of a breakdown in political relations".
AL KHALDI was sentenced to five years' imprisonment under the 1970 National Security Law on the pretext of attacking the reputation of a third country, Saudi Arabia, and undermining its prestige and respect "which would have exposed the State of Kuwait to the risk of breaking political relations". He was also accused of spreading "false news" and offending the Emir and prosecuted on the basis of the 2006 Law and Law No. 63 (2015) on Cybercrime which prohibits statements on the internet that criticize the Emir, the judiciary or harm Kuwait's relations with other states.
This particularly repressive legislation is regularly used against anyone who criticizes the executive branch, the judiciary or political relations with foreign countries or who disseminates messages on social media that are deemed critical of the authorities.
During the last review of Kuwait by the Human Rights Committee, the Committee recommended that the State party review this legislation, noting that it paves the way for "the arbitrary arrest, detention, trial, withdrawal of citizenship and expulsion of persons exercising their freedom of opinion and expression".
However, Kuwait has never implemented this recommendation and has, on the contrary, continued to use it to undermine freedom of expression and repress dissenting voices.
On behalf of the victim, Alkarama addressed the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in order for Kuwait to revoke the judgement against Salman AL KHALDI, to put an end to all proceedings against him and against all persons peacefully expressing their opinions, and finally to implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Committee by revising its domestic legislation.