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HRW accuses Kuwait of targeting civil organisations

Human Rights Watch yesterday criticised a Kuwaiti decree that effectively closed down the local chapter of Transparency International arguing that the decision “is the latest evidence of a government clampdown on peaceful criticism and free speech”.

In a statement HRW said the decree came weeks after members of Kuwait’s national assembly accused the group of exaggerating the level of corruption in the country and pursuing a political agenda, accusations that the group denies.

HRW called on the Kuwaiti government to take “serious steps to promote freedom of expression and approve the right of peaceful assembly”.

HRW deputy Middle East and North Africa director, Joe Stork said: “Kuwait has put in question both its willingness to tolerate criticism and its commitment to combat corruption… This looks like a classic case of shooting the messenger as a substitute for tackling the real problem.”

The international anti-corruption group has existed in Kuwait since 2006 when it was accredited by ministerial decree with the stated purpose of opposing corruption by promoting transparency and reform. Its bylaws prohibit it from “intervening in politics”.

The statement said that Kuwait is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, both of which require it to protect freedom of association.

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