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Kuwait shutting the voices?

Kuwait shutting the voices?

The country is considered to have the highest level of media freedom in the Arab world. But the number of defamation cases against journalists in the oil state is on the rise.


December 28, 2009 3:40 by

Kuwait is thinking about amending its media laws to increase punishments for publishers and broadcasters who produce material that “contains blasphemy, attacks on the Amir or [that] undermines national unity or social cohesion,” reports Gulf News.

The press and publication law as well as the audio-visual law could be amended to impose a jail term of up to two years and fines up to KD200,000 ($700,000) for violators, says the report. Currently they could face up to one year in prison and a KD20,000 ($70,000) fine.

“The amendments will not have a direct effect on the stations broadcasting from countries other than Kuwait since there is no legal text that can be used against their owners,” sources told Kuwaiti daily Al Jareeda. “However, we can use our privileged relations with other countries to help put an end to attempts to erode our national unity or divide the nation,” the sources said.

The issue came to light after a program on a private TV channel, Al Sour, reportedly insulted Kuwaiti tribes earlier this month, saying that Bedouin tribes were not Kuwaiti. The show led to massive protests across the country, and two lawsuits against Al Sour and Scope, another channel that aired the program for disrupting national unity.

Al Sour was eventually taken off the air, the channel’s owner, Mohammad al-Jouwaihal, was arrested. The minister of information, Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah al-Sabah, said the ministry had not issued a license for the channel, which broadcasts from outside Kuwait.

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