The cybercrime Law No. 63/2015 has turned into a means of financial gain for some lawyers, and adopts an inefficient method which reveals the extent at which such laws are exploited by these lawyers to restrict freedom of opinion.
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Through their actions, they have been able to defl ate the law of its content and objectives for which it was legislated.
Hence, this law has become a sword brandished on the neck of the bloggers (Twitter users), and a chicken that lays gold for these lawyers. Perhaps the most prominent article of this law that is being exploited by these lawyers is article 3, which states that – ‘A penalty of imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years and/or a fine not less than KD 5,000 and not more than KD 20,000 shall be imposed on anyone who threatens to commit a felony or violates the dignity, honor or reputation of a person.’
According to some sources, there are 42 prisoners in Kuwait because of Twitter-related issues.
Lawyers and politicians assured that the cybercrime law has become a source for restricting freedoms, and is inconsistent with international conventions signed by Kuwait, especially since vast majority of the citizens are ignorant of some of the articles of the law.
They said, ‘The cybercrime law not only contradicts the Kuwait Constitution, but also the agreement ‘International Covenant on the Political Rights of Civilians and Politicians’, which require amending the information crimes law so that it does not violate the provisions of freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, preserves respect for public morals, and curbs spread of false rumors.
The legal advisor in Kuwait Journalists Association (KJA) Hamdan Al-Namshan said some of the articles of cybercrime law represent a problem, as they restrict freedoms, affirming that majority of citizens are ignorant of some of the articles of this law, and they end up facing penalty for cybercrimes. He indicated that most of the victims of these crimes are young men and teenage girls.
Al-Namshan explained that there is a group of citizens who have never seen the articles of the cybercrime law and automatically post their messages on Twitter, only to find themselves getting fined and imprisoned eventually
There is also a group of lawyers who follow what is going on in Twitter in order to fish for violations of the cybercrime law and capitalize on them. The judges deal compassionately in this law, and therefore search for the lowest penalties of either imprisonment or fine not less than KD 5,001, which may increase with other degrees of litigation. Twitter cases also fall within misdemeanor cases, due to which the penalty is imprisonment for not more than three years. If the Twitter post negatively affects the security of the state, it becomes a crime.
In this regard, International human rights adviser and Head of the campaign ‘Tweeting is not a crime’ Anwar Al-Rasheed said he was tried twice because of two Twitter posts. He revealed that in the first case, the ruling was a fine of KD 3,000, and in the second case, he paid a fine of KD 2,000.
Al-Rasheed stressed that The International Covenant on Political Rights for Civilians and Politicians, which Kuwait signed in 1996, states that the existing laws that restrict freedoms and opinion are nullified and void if they violate the constitution and international conventions.
He indicated that he fell into a bump that forced him to pay compensation of KD 2,000, and when he tried to renew the residency of his domestic worker, he was surprised to know of a case against him that required payment of KD 50 as fine.
Al-Rasheed stressed that the campaign ‘Tweeting is not a crime’ has monitored 2,150 cases against Twitter users in 2015. He revealed that the number of Kuwaiti ‘Twitter’ prisoners has reached 42, adding that this infamous law would cost millions for the state if it gets abolished because everything that was based on it will be nullified.
By Najeh Bilal Al-Seyassah Staff
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