Human rights in Kuwait
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|Human rights in Kuwait|
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Kuwait ranks in the middle on Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House rankings of the world's freest countries. The former organization named Kuwait the 78th freest country on its 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index, out of 179 rated countries. In 2011, Freedom House ranked the country as "Partly Free", criticizing the government's restrictions on criticism and the lack of an independent judiciary, while praising the nation's academic freedom and its respect for the rights of religious minorities. In 2013, Kuwait was named the 77th freest country by Reporters Without Borders in the Press Freedom Index list out of 179 countries, making Kuwait the freest country in freedom of press in the Middle East region.
Kuwait is a party to several international human rights treaties, including
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery
- Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others
- United Nations Convention Against Torture
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour
- Convention concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour
- Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
- Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
- Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
- Convention against Discrimination in Education
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.
Kuwaiti women are considered to be among the most emancipated women in the Middle East region. In 2011, Kuwait was ranked highest of all Middle East countries in gender equality in the Human Development Report's Gender Inequality Index. In 2012, nearly 50% of Kuwaiti women participated in the labor force. The participation of Kuwaiti women in the labor force is much higher than the regional average. Kuwait was ranked the second highest Middle East country in gender equality in the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report.
In 2013, Kuwait was named the 77th freest country by Reporters Without Borders in the Press Freedom Index list out of 179 countries, making Kuwait the freest country in freedom of press in the Arab world and Middle East (above Israel and Turkey). In the mid and late 2000s Kuwait ranked 85th in the Reporters Without Borders world survey of the freedom of the press. According to the 2004 full report, Kuwait ranks among the most free countries in the Middle East for the press, "but local media still censor themselves".
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. 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 even though they are not necessarily critical of Islam. 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". Both private ISPs and the government take actions to filter the Internet.
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". Voice over Internet Protocol is illegal in Kuwait. Not only have many VoIP Web sites been blocked by the MOC, but expatriates have been deported for using or running VOIP services.
In September 2008 in response to several videos declared "offensive to Muslims", the Kuwaiti Ministry of Communication directed Kuwaiti ISPs to block YouTube. However, as of July 2009, YouTube was accessible in Kuwait. Kuwaiti online activist Nasser Abul was detained from July to September 2011 following a series of tweets criticizing the Bahraini ruling family's crackdown on Arab Spring protesters. He was released following an outcry from international human rights organizations as well as the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of Kuwait's own National Assembly. In 2012, Twitter user Nasser al-Ansary was sentenced to five years in jail for “defaming the emir of Kuwait”, and blogger Hamad al-Naqi was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for tweets considered by a court to be insulting to Islam and to the rulers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, leading Amnesty International to designate him a prisoner of conscience. In 2013, Twitter user Iyad al-Harbi was sentenced to two years in jail for “defaming the emir of Kuwait”
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