Don’t stifle press freedom lest becoming ‘Brethren of Purity’

This news has been read 1782 times!

IT seems that Kuwait, or rather the current government, is determined to change the nature of society by proposing a unified media law, which received a lot of disapproving reactions based on its contents.

Ahmad-jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

Therefore, attempts to beautify it through meetings, either with the parliament’s Educational Committee or with media representatives, will only lead to further stifling of freedoms.

It is evident that decision-makers have not yet realized that gagging people’s mouths has a negative impact on everyone. This is because it will be an occasion for spawning many incubators of insolence and disrespect on social media. There is no doubt that this will lead to more social and political unrest in the country.

If the cybercrime law – the scandal – imposed heavy penalties on some social media users, which prompted many of them to emigrate from the country or hide under fake names and accounts and harm the symbols of the state and all people, then it also created a new reality that Kuwait was not accustomed to throughout its history. This is because journalism operates according to ethical standards and political considerations, and it also has its own rules recognized in the world.

Today, in light of the four laws that punish journalism and journalists, the space for freedom has greatly narrowed.

That is why, when we called in 2006 to reconsider the current publications and newspapers law, we were pointing the finger at the wound caused by the huge penalties and fines imposed on writers and newspapers. With the failure to amend them and with the spread of social media, the issue became more complex.

In the new proposal, there are penalties that are harsher than those currently in Law No. 3/2006.

This matter in itself paralyzes the press and publications sector and leads to the migration of some people abroad, even through electronic sites that aim to disturb the stability of the country, or that operate for the ones who pay more.

There are many people from the region lurking in Kuwait. Does the decision-maker and those pushing for the legislation of the so-called “unified media law”, realize where this proposal is heading to?

Where is the guarantee for the freedom of opinion and expression? Or is this law a step towards changing the social and political nature of Kuwait, and later amending the Constitution to strip it of its soft power, which the world attests to?

The new proposal contains violations of several articles of the Constitution, starting with Article 7, because it violates the principles of justice, freedom, and equality,

Likewise, Article 36 states that, “Freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed, and every person has the right to express his opinion and publish it verbally, in writing, or otherwise”.

Article 37 states that, “Freedom of the press, printing, and publishing is guaranteed in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated by the law.”

In all of this, we must salute the Kuwaiti judiciary, which stands tall in its stances and did not act on articles that suppress freedoms, or refrain from pronouncing a ruling because judges realize that freedom of the press is a force supporting the path of justice.

Nonetheless, it remains to be said that this flawed proposal needs amendment, and more freedoms and openness. However, if it is approved as it is, the newspapers will turn into messages from “Ikhwan al-Safa” (Brethren of Purity). If this happens, it will be a disgrace to Kuwait.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

This news has been read 1782 times!

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