Kuwait may drop controversial media law

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Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah of Kuwait. Image Courtesy:www.alriyadh.com
Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah of Kuwait. Image Courtesy:www.alriyadh.com

Media reports highlight that Kuwait’s prime minister may consider dropping the controversial media law, which limits freedom of expression in the country.

The state news agency KUNA has quoted the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah at a gathering of editors as stating that, “if you are against the bill, it will be shelved.” Earlier this month, Kuwait’s government had passed a “Unified Media Law” which sparked political tensions in the Gulf state. The law is yet to be approved by the parliament and some lawmakers have already expressed their reservations about it.

The law was severely criticized by private newspapers as it proposed to set limits on freedom of speech by imposing heavy fines on journalists who insulted senior ruling family members and the state. The draft law has also criticized by international organizations such as the New York-based campaign group, Committee to Protect Journalists, for restricting media freedom.

Currently, Kuwait’s media enjoys one of the highest levels of freedom in the Gulf region and government is usually respectful of voices of dissent. However, in recent months, several social and political activists have been charged with insulting the Emir and handed jail sentences. The victimized parties include a prominent opposition politician, but the government’s recent willingness to reach a compromise on the situation has fueled positivity in the country.

Kuwait’s current parliament and cabinet are perceived to be more cooperative than their predecessors. In previous years, the country’s economic climate was adversely impacted by a power struggle that created hurdles for investors. The Kuwaiti stock market was also upbeat following the announcement, with the index rising by 1 percent in early trade on Thursday. Market observers are keenly watching for updates as the government reassures media about the stable political situation and positive economic environment.

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