Ruled by Sheikh Sabah IV, Kuwait is known as the Gulf’s least repressive state. However, in 2015 the UN Human Rights Council voiced concern about “excessive restrictions on freedom of expression contained in the Press and Publication Law and related legislation.” The vaguely-worded provisions of a cyber-crime law that took effect in January 2016 pose a threat to bloggers and online journalists who post any critical content. And an electronic media law adopted the same month forces them to apply to the government for a licence. The restrictions are reflected in online censorship and in arrests and convictions of bloggers and online activists, who are accused of destabilizing Kuwait if they make any disparaging comment about the emir, his family, its allies or religion. Al Watan TV’s closure in January 2015 for “anti-government” comments and the 25-year jail sentence passed in absentia in early 2018 on the London-based Kuwaiti blogger Abdallah Saleh for insulting Kuwait’s allies sent a very clear signal to Kuwaiti dissidents.
108 in 2019
33.86 in 2019