Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah
Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah attends an Arab League summit in March 2012. Human Rights Watch has called on Kuwait's ruler to sign into a law the amendments passed by parliament to significantly reduce durations of pre-trial detention. © Ahmad al-Rubaye - AFP/File
Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah
AFP
Last updated: May 15, 2012

Human Rights Watch urges Kuwait to sign detention reform bill

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Kuwait's ruler to sign into a law the amendments passed by parliament to significantly reduce durations of pre-trial detention.

"The law would eliminate unlimited renewals of pre-trial detention and significantly limit the periods allowed for pre-trial investigative detentions," said the New York-based rights organisation.

"Ending unlimited judicial renewals of pre-trial detention will help eliminate a significant source of the abuse of detainee rights," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW was quoted as saying in a statement.

"Every Kuwaiti will be safer and freer from the risk of arbitrary treatment because of this new law," Whitson added.

The new bill allows police to detain suspects for up to two days, down from four and an investigator or a prosecutor to remand suspects in custody for 10 days from the current 21.

The prosecutor can seek renewal of detention for 30 more days provided a judge approves it after allowing the suspect and his lawyer to appeal. At present detention can be renewed indefinitely.

The bill also requires that suspects be allowed contact with their lawyers at all times.

The new bill was unanimously passed last week by parliament, including by cabinet ministers present in the assembly, an indication the government is expected to recommend to the emir to approve the amendments.

Under Kuwaiti law, the government can reject laws passed by parliament which can in turn override the rejection in a fresh two-thirds majority vote.

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