Kuwait: Arbitrary detention of Bidun rights activist Abdulhakim Al Fadhli
On 1 May 2012, Mr Abdulhakim Al Fadhli, a well-known activist for the rights of Bidun (stateless) in Kuwait, was arrested for the third time this year and who is now charged with calling for and participating in demonstrations. Alkarama strongly condemns the persecution of Mr Al Fadhli which clearly violates his right to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly and is solely based on his commitment to the cause for equal rights of the Bidun in Kuwait.
In the context of increasing political turmoil across the Arab world, the Bidun, too, have started to take their calls for recognition and equal rights to the streets. Since the beginning of 2011, there has been a constant increase in Bidun activity and starting from 10 December 2011 there have been regular demonstrations, many of which have been brutally dispersed by the Kuwaiti security forces.
However, on 11 January 2012, the Ministry of Interior put an abrupt ending to this relative freedom when it announced that 'illegal residents' were again forbidden from 'organising any rallies, gatherings, sit-ins or demonstrations regardless of their nature, objective, and mission'. This announcement was followed by the arrest of over 60 persons during demonstrations on 13 January 2012.
Most recently, Mr Al Fadhli planned to participate in a peaceful march in Taima, a suburb west of the country's capital, on 1 May 2012. However, Mr Al Fadhli was arrested by Kuwaiti police forces before even leaving the premises of Al Shabi Mosque where the march was scheduled to start. Since his arrest, Mr Al Fadhli's detention warrant is renewed by the Public Prosecutor by 24 hours every day. On the third day of his detention, 3 May 2012, Mr Al Fadhli was brought before the Public Prosecutor who charged him, again, with 'incitement to demonstrate', 'participation in an illegal assembly' and 'participation in an unauthorised demonstration' as well as further alleged criminal offences.
Mr Al Fadhli's lawyer was not able to provide legal assistance his client when he was charged. Neither the lawyer nor Mr Al Fadhli's relatives have been given the possibility to communicate with him and since his arrest on 1 May 2012, they do not even know where he is detained.
As a consequence Mr Al Fadhli's detention and the legal proceedings against him must be considered to not comply with the established standards and norms of international law and to be in blatant violation of the Kuwaiti authorities' obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We fear that Mr Al Fadhli, being prevented from contact with his family and lawyer, is at risk of ill-treatment. We therefore call on the Kuwaiti authorities to ensure that Mr Al Fadhli's situation be brought in accordance with national and international law. To this end, Alkarama considers Mr Al Fadhli's immediate and unconditional release to be the only appropriate solution.