There is a revolving controversy in Kuwait these days between a number of journalists, writers, activists and the Kuwaiti government on the Electronic Media Law. It seems that the government is trying to pass the law this time through the current parliament. I think the government believes that the timing is very appropriate. Some fear this law would targets the freedom of expression.
This issue is very sensitive because Kuwait Constitution has safeguarded the freedom of expression for individuals. It is an issue worth talking about. I am trying to understand the government’s position which was summed up by the Information Minister – saying, “We presented a discretionary work to the National Assembly, and it is now up for review by the Legislative Authority – taking into account on what supports the freedoms and the preservation of the Constitution and the general principles.”
Yes, this is true. Therefore, it is now the role of National Assembly, journalists, media professionals and voters to make a clear stand. So far, I have not listened to the real opponents, but there are objections and worries – and I don’t think these worries can prevent the bill from getting approved. It is necessary to distinguish between the electronic media and press media in order to determine what is the exact definition of electronic press here. I think that regulating and organizing the media work even by a law is normal and should not be a controversial issue.
It is similar to the existence of traffic laws for the safety of the drivers, but the problem here is that currently, the country is being exposed to difficult regional situations. Although the government is convinced that the timing of the bill is right – especially in the case of compatibility and harmony with the current National Assembly, I would wish if only they waited, especially in the presence of several existing laws such as the Law of electronic crime.
The Law consists of 99 articles. It is divided into three sections – linked to the ways and means of the establishment of newspapers and how to determine the qualifications and privileges. I also think a writer should be the watchman on himself and be held accountable for sinful and offensive articles. The law will only add extra pressure.
There is a need for more discussion by various sectors of the society – the academics, technicians, writers and activists to listen to their views on the bill. Kuwait government is aware that it cannot approve a law that may jeopardize or violates the constitutional principles that ensure freedom of opinion and criticism. I hope to hear more from our MPs – stating their views clearly on this.
By Muna Al-Fuzai