KUWAIT: After Kuwait’s attorney general issued on Monday strict guidelines to ensure that children are adequately protected from the potential dangers associated with social media, an attorney told Kuwait Times 18 social media accounts were referred to the prosecutor yesterday. Lawyer Mohammed Al-Khaldi explained the new guidelines only expound on already existing juvenile laws which criminalize the abuse of children. Chief among the new guidelines is introducing age restrictions requiring social media users to be at least 13 years of age.

Khaldi noted punishment may reach up to one year of imprisonment. “Eighteen social media accounts were referred to the prosecutor yesterday for illegally exploiting children for commercial activities. The owners of the accounts signed pledges to refrain from such activities,” he said. The new guidelines clarify child rights law no. 21/2015, minors’ law no. 111/2015, decree no. 104/1991, decree no. 26/1993, decree no. 168/2018 and the recommendations of the higher national committee for child protection.
Many terms used in this guideline are still very general. “For instance, the law forbids exploiting children in commercial advertising to make profit, but some commercials are completely related to children or their products. So the juvenile prosecutor will decide whether they are harmful or not,” added Khaldi.

Any member of the public can file a case against any social media account or advertisement exploiting children. “The parents, as the guardians of the child, will be penalized for exploiting their child themselves or by anyone else. There are two authorities in charge of these crimes – the child protection center, which is under the Cabinet, and the minors’ care department under the interior ministry,” he explained.

Exceptions have been made. “The law allows using children in positive advertising that has educational value and for voluntary or charity activities among others,” Khaldi said. “The guidelines also sanction all inappropriate comments made under any post of children,” he concluded. The justice ministry added that all necessary measures will be taken to ensure that these guidelines are strictly enforced.

By Nawara Fattahova