Kuwait Should Allow Peaceful Protests, HRW Says

Kuwait’s government should revoke a “ban” it placed on peaceful assembly, Human Rights Watch said, one day ahead of a planned protest against changes to the Gulf state’s election law.

The third-biggest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is holding celebrations today to mark the 50th anniversary of its constitution.

“The right to peaceful assembly is enshrined in the constitution Kuwaitis will be celebrating,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at the New York-based rights group, said in an e-mailed statement. “Authorities should lift the ban and permit people to express their views.”

Kuwait’s political opposition staged several demonstrations and is boycotting elections set for Dec. 1 to protest a government-imposed change to the election law. The new amendment, which the opposition considers an attempt to reduce their representation in parliament, allows each citizen to vote for only one candidate, instead of four as previously permitted.

(Corrects to remove reference to GCC’s only elected parliament in 2nd paragraph of story first published yesterday.)
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