Reporters Without Borders is worried by an information ministry complaint against two journalists with the Kuwaiti satellite TV station Al-Yaum – Rima Al-Baghdady and Ahmad Al-Enezi – who read out an opposition communiqué on the air during a news bulletin on 9 October 2012.
Arrested on 7 November and immediately released on bail, they are facing up to five years in prison on charges of attacking the emir’s honour and authority and insulting the emirate’s tradition values.
Al Yaum news director Hassan Rouq and the station’s CEO, Ahmad Jabr, are also charged in connection with the complaint. All four denied the charges when the first hearing was held on 5 December. The next hearing has been postponed until 10 April.
Reporters Without Borders condemns this trial of journalists who were just doing their job and voices its concern about a decline in freedom of information.
“Charges of this kind against professional journalists are extremely dangerous and violate Kuwait’s international obligations,” Reporters Without Borders said. “They show that the information ministry is blithely confusing opinion with news reporting. We are worried by the increase in the number of trials involving journalists.”
Other international NGOs such as Human Rights Watch have voiced similar concerns.
Reporters Without Borders added: “It is vital for Kuwaiti democracy to ensure that journalists can work freely. The trial of Baghdady and Enezi should be seen as an alarm signal. We urge the information ministry to withdraw its complaint. The charges against these two journalists must be dropped.”
Kuwait is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and as such should respect article 19 of the covenant, which enshrines the right to “receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.”