Skyline International: Appalling Prosecution Of A Kuwaiti Academic For A Twitter Message
MADRID — Skyline International condemns the Kuwaiti authorities for summoning Dr Abdullah Al-Nafisi, an academic and writer, for investigation into a charge of “insulting the UAE” on the basis of a tweet he posted in 2017.
In a recent statement on his Twitter account, Al-Nafisi has said that on January 5 he received notice of the official decision to arrest him and to prevent him from traveling.
Although he had not received any previous notice of the case during the period leading up to this latest judicial procedure, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs had filed a claim against him for his allegedly “insulting the UAE.” Al-Nafisi announced his readiness to appear before the court at the appointed time for the hearing.
The Madrid-based organization says the Nafisi trial, based on a tweet posted more than two years ago, represents a governmental effort to silence people’s expression of opinions.
In August 2017, Al-Nafisi had published a tweet on Twitter saying: “Mohammad Dahlan is the one who rules the Emirates. Israel rules Muhammad Dahlan. Think deeply about it.”
During December 2019, Al-Nafisi appeared in a series of episodes of the “Black Box” program, which Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas publishes on its website. His views sparked widespread controversy, which some regarded as a reason for the lawsuit against him.
Al-Nafisi has worked as a professor of political science at the universities of Kuwait and the UAE. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1985 and was a political advisor to the Speaker of the National Assembly between 1992 and 1996.
Article 36 of the Kuwaiti constitution states that “freedom of opinion is guaranteed, and everyone has the right to express his opinion and to publish it in word or writing or by other means, under the conditions specified by law.” Additionally, Article 34 states that “the accused is innocent until proven guilty in a legal trial in which he is provided with the necessary guarantees to exercise the right of defence.”
Skyline International says that what Al-Nafisi wrote and presented falls within the domain of freedom of expression, by which any citizen may criticize any party — whether a person or a national entity — without restrictions or limits.
The human rights organization condemns Al-Nafisi’s trial, saying that it represents an abuse of the judiciary’s power in politics and a deviation from its role as a tool for law enforcement and for the protection of freedoms and citizens’ rights.
Skyline International calls on the judicial authorities in Kuwait to ensure a fair trial for Al-Nafisi, under the provisions of the Kuwaiti constitution, especially Article 34 thereof, and to respect international fair trial standards. It also affirms the need for the authorities in Kuwait to allow latitude of expression, not limited by any political interests or relationships, which necessarily includes the freedom to criticize public figures.