Kuwait | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Kuwait

Kuwait

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

57

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

22

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

16

The constitution provides for freedom of the press, and the media are free to scrutinize the government with some important exceptions. The Printing and Publications Law and the penal code restrict criticism of the emir and of relations with other states; material deemed offensive to religion; and incitements to violence, hatred, or dissent. Journalists who defame Islam are subject to prison sentences. These laws are arbitrarily enforced, and as a result, many journalists practice self-censorship. In June, the government charged Mohammed Jassem, editor of Al-Watan newspaper and an advocate for political reform, with challenging the authority of the emir and "uttering abusive statements" about the emir. In May, the government presented a new draft press law that contained some severe restrictions on press freedom, including prepublication censorship; at year's end, the National Assembly had yet to vote on it. The print media are privately owned and independent, but publishers must register with the ministry of information. Broadcast media are government owned. However, access to foreign satellite stations is legal and widespread. Kuwaitis can use the Internet, though Internet service providers have blocked access to certain sites. Journalists are subject to occasional harassment and physical violence. Non-embedded journalists who attempted to cross the Kuwaiti border into Iraq during the U.S.-led invasion of that country were often rebuked by Kuwaiti authorities. Also during the war, the information ministry threatened foreign journalists based in Kuwait with criminal penalties if they filed stories for Israeli media.