Friday , September 29 2023

Conflict reveals shortfall in law regulating publications

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LAST week has been a difficult, stressful frustrating time for the writers who just issued their new novels, short stories books, historical books or any type of written productions, the International Book Fair was held in Kuwait leading to expose an aggressive reaction taken by the Ministry of Information’s “Department of Publications Control” against the newly issued books, a harsh disappointment accrued their hard work and ambitions.

The conflict reveals a true shortfalls in the laws that regulate publications which makes the process of approving or disapproving a book to be published, a paradoxical mysterious process.

Due to the constitution of kuwait the freedom to express thoughts and point of views is a guaranteed right to every one who lives in Kuwait. The Article No. 36 regarding this right clearly said “Freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed. Subject to the conditions and stipulations specified by law, every person shall have the right to express his opinion by sneaking or writing or otherwise”

Which means issuing publications to express thoughts and point of views is a right given to every person even before the “department of publications control” ever took place. The department is supposed to work through and to serve this principle, novels are supposed to be issued freely with a flexible supervision by the department.

But unfortunately when it comes to processing, great conflicts take place between the constitutional recommendations and the proceedings taken by the department of publications control. Law No. 3 for the year 2006 regarding press and publications in Kuwait mentioned in its 21st article what’s prohibited to be published exclusively.

Once going over the prohibited matters it seems reasonable to prevent people from disdaining or contempting the Constitution of the State, & disdaining or insulting jurists or members of the public prosecution as mentioned in the first and second point.

But it’s illogical and unreasonable to mention in its third point “the public morals” as a subject to prohibit people from publishing it!

The third point says “Insulting the public morals or instigating to violate the public order or to violate the laws or to commit crimes, even if the crime did not occur.” But what exactly is public morals??

How to tell if an act is considered as an violation?, and I don’t mean questioning beating someone or slandering them or insulting them because these actions are regulated by the criminal law … but I mean interacting with people in different way.

For example: Shaking hands with some one you met again, would it be a violation if that someone was a woman? Because some people believe its “haram” to shake hands between different sex people that is not from your family, while other women wouldn’t mind shaking hands with men … some families refuse to have their women leaving the house alone, while others allow them to practice their life normally.

Does wearing short skirts is considered a violation or its right given by the constitution?

How to tell what is violation to the public morals and what’s not?

Public morals is the only term that jurists were never able to contain in a clear definition and made it clear to people to understand..

And trying to regulate “public ethics” is like trying to contain something that can’t be contained which leads to failure that comes in a shape of “a law shortfall”.

When it comes to publishing books the department of publications control prohibit books regarding “what were they thinking in the story or what were they doing and wearing “while in real life people are dressing up and acting freely due to their constitutional rights, so why to execute the hard work and ambitions of young writers due to a law short fall?

The department of publications control took actions in the international book fair that was held last week. Young writers were disappointed and hardly celebrated their new books and some didn’t even sign them.

We recommend an urgent intervention to stop this law shortfall and finish it.

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By Atyab AlShatti, Esq