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Court ruling a win for press freedom in Kuwait

KUWAIT: In a new court ruling seen as a victory to liberties in general and freedom of the press in Kuwait in particular, the felonies court chaired by Judge Abdullah Al-Othman confirmed that newspapers will not be indicted if they publish genuine news, even if the names of concerned officials are mentioned.

The criminal court exonerated an editor-in-chief for publishing the name of an engineer after an MP demanded to hold him to account through a parliamentary question, which was published by the paper. The court said newspapers cannot be held to account or convicted in cases of publishing official news, even if it mentions names, because it did not accuse anyone – rather it was reporting facts, Al-Qabas Arabic daily reported yesterday.

Lawyers and legal experts considered this ruling a new victory for freedom of expression, adding that the Kuwait judiciary gives journalistic and information freedom a high status and rejects muzzling writers who always seek to reveal the truth and serve public interest, away from any personal convictions or other goals, as responsible freedom is guaranteed by the law and the constitution.

Lawyers said the ruling explains that publishing names in newspapers is not considered defamation, and that conveying news with evidence is not a means of targeting anyone; it is rather to convey the truth. This is the role of the media, especially with regards to issues of public opinion.

They said the ruling relied on the role of the paper that published the news, and by publishing the name of the complainant, it only reported the truth and did not write the name by itself. The ruling stressed that the role of the paper is to report true news and this is what took place without any additions.

Lawyers reaffirmed that this ruling is a moral support for freedoms in Kuwait and an answer to all opinions that adopted the idea of limiting freedom of expression, or those who called for shackling the media and making it afraid of reporting facts to the readers as they are.

They insisted that enemies of democracy want papers to be as they like, so they support silencing and preventing the publication of truth in public issues and events that preoccupy the society. They added that Kuwaiti journalism was and still is the spokesperson of the people, who are looking for the country’s interests.

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