Shia Rights Watch expresses deep regret for the one-year prison verdict against Kuwaiti Lawyer Khalid al Shatti for allegedly insulting Sunni clerics, although he had been previously found innocent.
The verdict, which was contradictory to two earlier rulings and came as Al Shatti was up for election to parliament, is extremely suspicious. The verdict does not take into accountç local laws or the constitution both of which grant broad freedom of expression.
This sentence, handed down in contradiction to two earlier rulings and inconsistent with Kuwaiti law, is possibly a result of pressure from extremist Salafi groups. These groups are trying to block freedom of expression in contravention of local laws and destroy national unity through divisive religious politics.
SRW also stresses that the message being sent by Kuwait, through imprisoning an extremely prominent human rights lawyer and activist in Khalid al Shatti, is a move toward ending freedom of expression and democracy in Kuwait. Moreover it is an obvious defect in the country’s juridical regime. Most importantly, it a erodes confidence in the judiciary by demonstrating that the justice meted out by the state is different depending on whether you are Shia or Sunni.