Amnesty International warns of curbs on speech in

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2015 1:45 PM

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Curbs on free expression that have accelerated in Kuwait since the 2011 Arab Spring protests swept the Mideast are putting the country at risk of "sliding into deeper repression," Amnesty International warned in a new report Wednesday.

Tiny Kuwait has long enjoyed the most free-wheeling political system in the Gulf and a relatively vibrant press, though certain types of comments — such as denouncing the Arab country's ruler — remain illegal.

But in its latest report, Amnesty says authorities have used an array of laws to arrest, prosecute and jail scores of activists and others agitating for change since 2011 in the Western-allied, oil-rich nation.

"In the five years since a wave of popular protests swept across the Arab world we have witnessed a steady, relentless eroding of human rights in Kuwait as the authorities step up the clampdown on dissent," said James Lynch, Amnesty's deputy Middle East and North Africa director. "It is not too late to reverse this downward spiral of human rights violations."

Kuwaiti officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report.

Kuwait has weathered a number of protests since 2011, though they did not reach the scale of widespread protests that occurred in other Arab countries, including Egypt and the nearby Gulf island nation of Bahrain.

London-based Amnesty said Kuwaiti authorities are using a variety of laws to silence critics, It cited legislation against defamation, and laws that limit speech in the name of national security or to protect religion. A new cybercrimes law set to come into force in January could further stifle free expression, it warned.