Human rights in Kuwait

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Human rights in Kuwait derive from the 1961 Constitution of Kuwait as well as a series of international treaties.[1]


Kuwait is a party to several international human rights treaties, including[2]

Freedom rankings[edit]

In Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House rankings of the world's freest countries, Kuwait ranks among the freest countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. In 2013, Kuwait was ranked the freest country in freedom of press in the Middle East region (#77 out of 179 countries).[3] In 2014, Kuwait was ranked #91 of 180 by Reporters Without Borders in the Press Freedom Index, thus Kuwait was again the freest country in freedom of press in the Middle East and North Africa region.[4] In 2011 and 2012, Reporters without Borders ranked Kuwait the freest Middle East country in freedom of press in the Press Freedom Index (#78 out of 179 countries).[5]

In 2000-2014, Freedom House ranked the country as "Partly Free" in the annual Freedom in the World survey.[1] Kuwait is the only GCC country that is ranked partly free, the rest of the GCC is ranked not free thus Kuwait has the best freedom ranking (civil liberties and political rights) in the GCC.[6][7]

Human trafficking[edit]

In June 2007, Kuwait was found to be one of the worst offenders in human trafficking according to a report issued by the United States Department of State. The finding was due to the Kuwait government's repeated failure to tackle the problem. Some migrant workers are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude by employers in Kuwait. The workers were subject to physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, threats, confinement to the home, and withholding of passports to restrict their freedom of movement.[8][9]


Main article: Bidoon

There are 80,000-120,000 Bidoon in Kuwait. The Bidoon are supposedly stateless people. Most of Kuwait's Bedoon are of Iraqi ancestry.[10][11][12] The Bedoon issue in Kuwait “overlaps with historic sensitivities about Iraqi influence inside Kuwait”.[13] During the 1980s, the Bidoon constituted 80-90% of the Kuwaiti Army.[14] Until 1990, the Bedoon accounted for 80% of the Kuwaiti Army.[15]

Kuwait considers the Bidoon illegal immigrants.[16][17] The Kuwaiti government believes the Bidoon are foreign nationals from neighboring countries. In May 2014, the Kuwaiti government discovered the true nationalities of 6,051 Bidoon, most were Saudi nationals hiding their passports.[18] Human rights organizations have criticized Kuwait for its handling of the issue.

Most Bidoon students receive free education at public schools.[16] In June 2011, the Kuwaiti government in coordination with the Zakat house, launched a scholarship fund to support Bidoon students. All Bidoon receive free healthcare.[16]

Women's rights[edit]

Main article: Women in Kuwait

Kuwaiti women are considered to be among the most emancipated women in the Middle East region.[19] In 2011, Kuwait was ranked highest of all Middle East countries in gender equality in the Human Development Report's Gender Inequality Index.[19] In 2013, 46.7% of Kuwaiti women participated in the labor force.[20] The participation of Kuwaiti women in the labor force is much higher than the regional GCC average.[21] Kuwait was ranked the second highest Middle East country in gender equality in the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report.[22]

When voting was first introduced in Kuwait in 1985, Kuwaiti women had the right to vote.[23] This right was later removed. Women's suffrage was re-granted in May 2005.

Children born to a Kuwaiti mother and non-Kuwaiti father do not get Kuwaiti citizenship unless the father is stateless, dead or divorced with the Kuwaiti mother.[24]

Internet freedom[edit]

Kuwait is engaged in pervasive Internet filtering in the social and Internet tools areas and selective filtering in political and conflict/security areas according to a report from the OpenNet Initiative in June 2009.[25] The primary target of Internet filtering is pornography and, to a lesser extent, gay and lesbian content. Some Web sites that are related to religions other than Islam are blocked.[25] The Kuwait Ministry of Communication regulates ISPs, forcing them to block pornography, anti-religion and anti-security websites to "protect the public by maintaining both public order and morality".[26] Both private ISPs and the government take actions to filter the Internet.[27][28]

The Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) operates the Domain Name System in Kuwait and does not register domain names which are "injurious to public order or to public sensibilities or otherwise do not comply with the laws of Kuwait".[29] Voice over Internet Protocol is illegal in Kuwait.[30]

Kuwaiti online activist Nasser Abul was detained from July to September 2011 following a series of tweets that provoked sectarian tensions and criticized the Bahraini government's crackdown on Arab Spring protesters.[31] He was released following an outcry from international human rights organizations[32][33] as well as the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of Kuwait's own National Assembly.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Freedom in the World: Kuwait". Freedom House. 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Ratification of International Human Rights Treaties - Kuwait". University of Minnesota Human Rights Library. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  3. ^ "2013 Press Freedom Index". Reports without Borders. 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Press Freedom Index 2014". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Press Freedom Index 2011/2012". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Kuwait Ranked Best On Freedom In GCC". 
  7. ^ "Kuwait Rated ‘Partly’ In World Freedom Survey - ‘Best’ Among GCC States". 
  8. ^ "Trafficking in Persons Report 2007". U.S. Department of State. 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "2007: Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights". International Trade Union Confederation. 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Kuwait City Journal; The Bedoons: Outcasts in the Land They Served". In the last century, and more so in the early decades of this one, nomadic shepherds, most from Iraq but indifferent to national boundaries, settled in Kuwait. Because they were not rooted in the pursuits of the original families of Kuwait -- fishing, trading or pearl fishing -- they remained apart from the society that formed the modern state. These people became known as Bedoons, from the Arabic word for "without." 
  11. ^ Famous victory: the Gulf War. p. 187. 
  12. ^ "Stateless Bedoons Are Shut Out of Kuwait". The Christian Science Monitor. 
  13. ^ "Australian Government - Bedoon". p. 3. 
  14. ^ "Government of United Kingdom". p. 4. 
  15. ^ "Challenges of Security in Kuwait". p. 5. 
  16. ^ a b c "BBC المليفي في نقطة حوار عن قضية البدون على" (in Arabic). 
  17. ^ "Kuwait: Stateless ‘Bidun’ Denied Rights". Kuwait considers the Bidun "illegal residents." 
  18. ^ 6,051 illegal residents in Kuwait adjusted status by May
  19. ^ a b "Gender inequality". Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  20. ^ "Kuwait on path to fulfill all MDGs by 2015 deadline". United Nations. p. 3. 
  21. ^ "Kuwait: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix". International Monetary Fund. 2012. p. 43. 
  22. ^ Gender Gap Report 2012 Page 19
  23. ^ Apollo Rwomire (2001). African Women and Children: Crisis and Response. p. 8. 
  24. ^ ?, ? (10 March 2014). Human rights watch. Kuwait City: ?. p. 2. 
  25. ^ a b ONI Country Profile: Kuwait", OpenNet Initiative, 6 August 2009
  26. ^ "Kuwait: State of the media", Menassat
  27. ^ "Middle East and North Africa: Kuwait", Media Sustainability Index, 2006
  28. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kuwait – 2007", Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 11 March 2008
  29. ^ Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research web site
  30. ^ "VOIP Policy and Regulation: Regional perspective", Professor Ibrahim Kadi, Communications and Information Technology Commission, presented at the regional seminar on Internet Protocol: VOIP, Algiers, Algeria, 12 March 2007
  31. ^ "Urgent action (follow up) : Kuwait. Online activist Nasser Abul sentenced for tweeting.". Amnesty International. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  32. ^ "Kuwaiti Arrested for Tweeting About Protests". Amnesty International. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  33. ^ "Kuwait: Release Jailed Internet Scribes". Human Rights Watch. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  34. ^ Nihal Sharaf (19 September 2011). "Release Twitter activist Nasser Abul: Al-Duwaisan". The Arab Times. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 

External links[edit]