Newsletter No 22 14 March 2006
News from the Media Scene:
Kuwait's New Press Law Approved

A new Press and Publication Law approved by the Kuwaiti National Assembly on 6 March ends with the state monopoly on newspaper licensing and prevents the detention of journalists and closure of newspapers without a court order.

Although the new law is seen by many as a “significant addition to the country’s public freedoms”, as the Kuwaiti Journalists Association said in a statement, others like the Al Anbaa daily consider “the positive aspects in the law as superficial,” and that it would result in muzzling freedom of expression, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.

The new law opens the licensing process to citizens in a country where the government last issued a license to Al Anbaa in 1976. Although authorities will still have the right to grant or refuse licenses, applicants will be able to appeal to the courts if their license is refused by the Information Ministry. The cancellation of licenses will not be possible without a court order.

The law also prevents imprisonment of journalists for press crimes, except for charges of blasphemy or contradicting national interest or serving a foreign body, terms that some have considered too vague. However, detention cannot be executed without a court order.