A Kuwaiti Member of Parliament, Abdul-Hamid Dashti, is currently facing a “homeland security lawsuit” for allegedly insulting the “administration and leaders” of Saudi Arabia during a televised speech. On 13 March, Kuwait’s National Assembly approved a claim to lift Dashti’s parliamentary immunity so that the lawsuit could proceed. Although he will still be allowed to continue his official duties and attend parliament sessions, the public prosecution may now summon the MP for investigation. Other MPs tell the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the decision to lift Dashti’s immunity is being appealed.
The Saudi ambassador to Kuwait, Abdulaziz al-Fayez, has previously complained about Dashti’s remarks to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Al-Fayez objected to the MP’s “tenacious provocations,” which reportedly stated that the Saudi-led operation in Yemen is poorly handled and “will destroy all Gulf countries.” Dashti also reportedly referred to Saudi Arabia as a supporter of terrorism.
According to Amnesty International, Kuwaiti authorities have engaged in a general
“clampdown on dissent” and free expression since a series of pro-reform demonstrations occurred in 2011 and 2012. These protests, which took aim at corruption, a new electoral law, and government repression, led to the Kuwaiti authorities to institute what they called the “iron fist policy,” a set of security measures announced as “a decisive and firm confrontation with whatever could undermine the state, its institutions and constitution.” Under the “iron fist policy,” Kuwaiti authorities have been empowered to prosecute individuals for any comments deemed “insulting” to not only the Emir of Kuwait, but the leaders of neighboring states as well.
Margaret Bailey is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB.