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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

Interestingly, Kuwait ranked 60 in the annual world press freedom index issued by Reporters Without Borders in October this year, the highest among the Gulf countries. Kuwait also occupied the highest spot among the Arab countries in a press freedom index created by Washington-based non-profit Freedom House in May this year, coming 115 among 195 countries.

In March 2006, the Kuwaiti parliament adopted a new press law that decriminalized media offences, again a first in the region. However, Kuwait has been clamping down on journalists in the recent past.

In July this year, Reporters Without Borders said that it was concerned about the increasing number of cases being brought against journalists in Kuwait. Faisal al-Qinai, secretary general of the Kuwaiti Journalists’ Association told the body that numerous journalists had asked for legal assistance at these trials.

“The 2006 press law reform profoundly transformed the emirate’s media landscape. We urge the authorities to continue to strengthen the protection of the right to be informed and to inform the public,” the organization said.

Earlier this month, Mohammed al-Jassem, a journalist working for the daily Al-Alam Al-Youm, was detained by the police for 12 days after he was accused of defaming the Prime Minister Nasser Mohammed. He was later released on KD1,000 ($3,486) bail.

The Kuwaiti deputy Ali al-Rashid slapped a defamation case against Ahmed Abderrahman al-Quss, a journalist with the daily Al-Watan last year, demanding KD100,000 dinars ($348,735) in damages.

In May last year, journalist Fuad al-Hashem, also working for daily Al-Watan was ordered to pay around $31,650 in three defamation cases brought by the Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani.

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