Controversial press restrictions in Kuwait retracted


The new regulations required local press not to publish material related to the ministries of interior, health, education and social affairs and labour without prior approval of authorities from these ministries. The meeting at the KJA was attended by Secretary General Faisal Al-Qenai and the association’s lawyers. The KJA has vowed to oppose any measures that may impede local media freedoms.

Muhailbi however stressed in his statement that the Information Ministry is keen on expanding "responsible press freedom" in accordance with the guidelines of the new press and publications law which was passed by the Assembly last year. The minister said that the ministry will not curb press freedom and is complying with the press and publications law for the sake of public interests and to preserve national unity. Muhailbi stressed that the ministry will not issue any regulations that may breach the law.

Earlier, KJA’s board of directors headed by Chairman Ahmad Behbehani issued a statement in which it rejected all restrictions mentioned in the withdrawn directive. "KJA considers such restrictions a direct interference that would limit press freedoms and impose strict regulations that are not mentioned in the press and publication law," said the statement. Qenai told reporters that all local dailies were firm against such a directive. "This is a setback in the freedom Kuwait has been known for," he said. "Kuwait is marked by its democracy and freedom of press as one of its two wings…democracy will be disabled if one of the wings is restrained," Qenae said, urging all officials to overlook such a violation of constitutional rights of freedom.

"I don’t think such a directive was issued by the minister or his undersecretary as we are very sure of their support to the freedom of press," remarked Qenai, noting that it must have been done by one of the managers. "I believe some irresponsible manager thought that this message was a regular circular to be distributed."

Qenae said the directive noting negatively affects Kuwait’s press reputation worldwide. He also emphasized that all Kuwaiti editors-in-chief were highly responsible and that they had never placed their papers’ interests ahead of Kuwait’s interests. "Why then do we receive such messages?" he wondered. Qenae reaffirmed his full confidence that Muhailbi would never approve the contents of such a message nor the impact it might have on Kuwait’s press. He also urged ministry officials not to issue any press-related decisions without consulting KJA and editors-in-chief first.


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