UN Experts Grill Kuwait on Torture, Trafficking, Violence against Women

On 25 and 26 July 2016, Kuwait undertook its periodic review under the Convention against Torture, wherein the Committee in charge of implementing the Convention quizzed Kuwait on the implementation of its international obligations. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) assesses that the Committee accurately understood the situation of torture as being significantly unresolved in Kuwait, and thanks the Committee for its attention to these important issues.

Prior to its review, Kuwait submitted its report to the Committee examining its compliance with the CAT. The report misrepresented key facts, including that the government was committed to the eradication of and actively prosecuting all instances of acts of torture in the country. ADHRB released a parallel report last week detailing that torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane abuse continue to be a problem in the country.

Committee members did not take Kuwait’s report at face value. They questioned Kuwait on several reported instances of torture, including upon those persons involved in the Abdali terrorist case and the attack on the Imam Sadiq mosque. Several members were specifically concerned that coerced confessions obtained in the Abdali case had been used to justify capital punishment, and that medical reports concerning their torture had been falsified. Kuwait denied these allegations.

“Torture continues on a regular basis in Kuwait,” said Husain Abdulla, the executive director of ADHRB. “Although Kuwait has extensive laws in place that ostensibly prohibit the practice, the government must actually implement those laws and fully eradicate torture in the country.”

The Committee expanded its questions into dealing with issues of abuse, questioning Kuwait on issues concerning human trafficking and violence against women. Committee members stated that they had received reports that Kuwait has failed to enforce laws that prohibit the confiscation of passports, and that male laborers can find themselves in situations resembling modern day slavery. The Committee also appeared concerned that marital rape and domestic abuse have yet to be specifically criminalized in Kuwait, and that Kuwait only reported five cases of domestic violence in 2015. Kuwait again denied these charges.

“Kuwait reported only five cases of domestic violence in 2015, and it stated that two of them had been ‘amicably resolved’. Further, there are reports that migrant laborers can be bought and sold at market for their personal appearance – a practice reminiscent of the worst days of slavery,” said Abdulla. “It’s past time that Kuwait took its international commitments seriously. Words and laws are not enough; Kuwait must take action, or be held to account for its crimes.”