Identity, Equality, Unity
On 19 October 2014 the Court of Misdemeanours in Kuwait is expected to deliver its verdict in the case of human rights defender Sulaiman Bin Jasim. He is a human rights observer who works with the National Committee for Monitoring Violations (NCV).
On 18 April 2013, Sulaiman Bin Jasim was monitoring a political demonstration in the Al-Andalus area of Kuwait City on behalf of NCV when he was brutally assaulted by two Special Forces (Riot Police) officers and shot at with rubber bullets. He was detained for three days before being released on bail on 21 April 2013.
He filed a complaint against the Special Forces for the assault but it was later dismissed because the investigators, allegedly, could not identify the perpetrators.
Sulaiman Bin Jasim told the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR): “I was doing my duty as a human rights observer monitoring a peaceful demonstration when the riot police assaulted me.” He added, “The charges against me are fabricated and my complaint against the Special Forces for beating me was unfairly dismissed.”
He was charged with participating in an unlicensed demonstration and disobeying police orders, which carries a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment. The first day in court was 18 May 2014 during which the defense requested permission to photocopy all the relevant legal documents. Despite permission being granted by the judge, the court’s staff did not allow them to photocopy the documents and another request had to be made to the court on 22 June for the documents. On 13 July the case was postponed until 7 September due to the unavailability of the original judge, it was further postponed on 7 September and again on 21 September.
The case finally appeared before the court on 12 October 2014. During the Court session Sulaiman Bin Jasim’s lawyer requested the attendance of the prosecution’s sole witness for cross-examination. This request was denied by the Court and the trial was postponed until 19 October 2014 when the final verdict will be delivered. This means that the verdict will be issued without the submission of a defense by Sulaiman Bin Jasim, in clear breach on fair procedures. He is now faced with the threat of imminent imprisonment.
The GCHR expresses serious concern at the assault, arrest, fabricated charges and unfair trial of Sulaiman Bin Jasim all of which are a direct result of his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Kuwait to:
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention toArticle 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”