Held without charge

Kuwait Times  uncovers the case of a ‘missing’ man held in a Kuwait jail with no charges for more than two years

If you are a non-Western expat, have no wasta and get into a conflict with a powerful person in Kuwait, it may lead you to lose your freedom for an indefinite period claims the family of a man imprisoned here without charge.

Ahmad, 31, was active on social media, particularly on Twitter. One day he got into a discussion over a religious issue, and the next day he was arrested by the criminal investigations department. He hasn’t returned home for more than two years, according to his family members.

He has never been charged. Has never faced a court or even the public prosecution. And no official can seem to explain why he’s in jail or how long he will be kept there.

Being sanctioned or imprisoned for committing a crime or violation is correct, but being illegally imprisoned without charge is in conflict with all international laws. His family hasn’t found a solution to release him or even been given a chance to defend him in court.

“We didn’t find anyone to help us resolve Ahmad’s situation. We asked help from the embassy, but they told us they can’t do anything as he is not officially charged, so they can defend him. The only thing the embassy helped us with was not giving them Ahmad’s passport to be deported,” Ahmad’s sister Huda told Kuwait Times.

Ahmad’s family doesn’t want him to be deported. “My parents came to Kuwait in the early 1960s and all of us were born here. Even most of my uncles and aunts from both sides are in Kuwait. We have no family or relatives back home,” she added.
Huda claims the rest of her family and herself don’t know what was Ahmad’s crime. “Ahmad is in the deportation prison for more than two years, after he spent some time at the criminal investigations department. I asked him what he did wrong and what he was accused of. He said that when he was arrested, they asked him about his accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, how did he get his followers, if he knows them and so on,” she said.

“The only thing he knows for sure is that the person behind his imprisonment is an officer in the interior ministry, who had a fight with him over a sectarian subject. Ahmad also told me that this person vowed he will deport him without any official accusation. It seems this person is very powerful and has friends in prison and various departments of the ministry,” she added.

Ahmad’s family went to a lawyer to help them but they were not successful. “My other brother met a lawyer to discuss Ahmad’s issue with him, but the lawyer told him he can’t help him if he hasn’t been officially charged with committing a crime, as there is no case filed against him to be defended. The lawyer advised him to find some wasta to release Ahmad,” Huda said.

According to her, they visited three former and present members of parliament to help them, but they didn’t do anything. “We also contacted the Kuwait Human Rights Society, which couldn’t provide any help as there is no official case filed against him. Finally, some people advised us to visit an official at the interior ministry who is close to the minister, who may help us resolve this problem. I went to his office twice with my mother, and we are hoping that he will help us, although two months have passed already.”

Ahmad’s situation in the prison is awful. “Ahmad complained of the bad treatment he is getting in prison, telling me that the person who got him there is using his friends to make him suffer. He told me that he never receives any of the things we bring him to prison. Many times, the guards wake him during the night and don’t let him sleep. In Ramadan, they switched the air-conditioning off so he couldn’t even fast. He is in solitary confinement and wishes to be in a place without a ceiling. Our father passed away last year and Ahmad couldn’t attend the burial or see him for the last time,” Huda anguished.

“If Ahmad has committed a crime, let him be legally charged and have the opportunity to defend himself. We don’t mind if he is sentenced to imprisonment – at least we will know for how long he will stay in prison, and it will be a legal process,” concluded Huda.

By Kuwait Times staff

This article was published on 22/02/2018