Freedom of expression was curtailed. Critics of the government, including those using social media, were at risk of arrest, and security forces beat some demonstrators. One man died in police custody apparently after being tortured. Women continued to face discrimination in law and in practice. Thousands of Bidun continued to be denied Kuwaiti nationality and so were denied access to health care, education and employment on the same basis as citizens. At least 17 people were sentenced to death; no executions were reported.
There were a number of protests, some apparently inspired by events elsewhere in the region. Partly in response, it appeared, the government disbursed grants in February reportedly worth around US$4,000 and food rations to Kuwaiti citizens. In June, hundreds of mostly young Kuwaitis demonstrated, calling for a change of government and an end to corruption. A wave of strikes began in September by workers demanding better pay and benefits. In November, in response to escalating demands by protesters who occupied parliament and by members of the opposition, the Prime Minister resigned. Kuwait was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in May. Kuwait’s record was considered by the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) in May and by the CEDAW Committee in October.Top of page
Government critics were liable to arrest. Demonstrations were generally allowed, although at least one was forcibly dispersed. Riot police occasionally beat demonstrators.
One man died in custody apparently after being tortured by police.
The CAT urged the government to amend the law to make torture a crime punishable by severe penalties.Top of page
Throughout the year, hundreds of Bidun, long-term residents of Kuwait, demonstrated to protest against their continuing statelessness and to demand Kuwaiti nationality, which would allow them to access free education, free health care and employment opportunities on the same basis as Kuwaiti citizens. More than 100,000 Bidun continued to be denied nationality. The security forces used force to disperse demonstrations and arrested protesters. The government said it would address some Bidun grievances but stated that only 34,000 Bidun were eligible for citizenship.Top of page
Migrant domestic workers, many from countries in south and south-east Asia, were still not protected by Kuwait’s labour laws. Many faced exploitation and abuse by employers. Those who left their jobs without their employer’s permission, even when fleeing abuse, were liable to arrest, detention, prosecution under immigration laws for “absconding”, and deportation.
The CAT urged the government to urgently enact labour legislation to cover domestic work and ensure that migrant domestic workers, particularly women, are protected against exploitation and abuse.Top of page
Women continued to face discrimination in law and in practice. In October, the CEDAW Committee urged the government to criminalize domestic and sexual violence, introduce tougher penalties for perpetrators of so-called honour crimes, and introduce legislation to promote gender equality.Top of page
At least 14 men and three women were sentenced to death after being convicted of murder or drug-trafficking. Most were foreign nationals. At least one death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. No executions were reported.
The CAT urged the government to restrict the application of the death penalty to “most serious” crimes and treat death row prisoners humanely.Top of page