Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

14 January 2011

Investigation into Kuwait death in custody welcomed

Investigation into Kuwait death in custody welcomed

Amnesty International has welcomed the Kuwaiti government's announcement that a full investigation is being conducted into an alleged death as a result of police torture.

Mohammad Ghazzai al-Mutairi, who had been arrested apparently for possessing alcohol, an offence in Kuwait, is alleged to have been beaten and sexually abused while in police detention.

According to media reports, he was rushed to hospital last Tuesday morning from the police station in which he was held in the southern town of Ahmadi, but pronounced dead on arrival.

On Thursday, the Ministry of the Interior acknowledged that Mohammad Ghazzai al-Mutairi's death was suspicious and announced that it had been referred for investigation by the public  prosecutor.

"A prompt inquiry is essential but it must be independent and transparent, as international human rights standards require, if it is to get to the truth and be credible," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"If police officers or others are found to have acted unlawfully and to have tortured or otherwise ill-treated this detainee, they must be brought to justice in accordance with international law and standards for fair trial."

The Interior Ministry's announcement that the death is being investigated was made the day after Kuwait's parliament decided to set up its own five-member committee to investigate whether Mohammad Ghazzai al-Mutairi died as a result of police torture.

This committee has been asked to submit its report within two weeks.

Mohammad Ghazzai al-Mutairi is said by the authorities to have been arrested last Saturday  in Ahmadi after 24 bottles of alcohol were found in his car. The trading and use of alcohol is prohibited in Kuwait.

Initially, government officials said he resisted arrest and then died of an existing heart ailment.

However, on Tuesday, Mussallam Al-Barrak, an opposition MP, reportedly produced medical evidence showing that Mohammad Ghazzai al-Mutairi's body was already cold by the time he was admitted to hospital and that he had been bound by the hands and feet and severely beaten, including around the mouth.

His body is said to have been smeared with excrement and the medical evidence to have indicated that a stick had been forced into his rectum, apparently to torture him.

Kuwait is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the government is therefore obliged to ensure that all allegations of torture or other serious human rights violations are promptly, independently, impartially and thoroughly investigated.

The UN Human Rights Committee has made it clear that a state’s failure to effectively investigate an alleged human rights violation could, in and of itself, give rise to a breach of the right to an effective remedy guaranteed under Article 2(3) of the ICCPR.

Issue

Detention 
Torture And Ill-treatment 

Country

Kuwait 

Region

Middle East And North Africa 

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