Kuwait Law: Defamation Online

Post by Fajer Ahmed

So last week, Mark got accused of defamation and I just so happened to be working on a case regarding defamation at the office which is why I decided to write about it in this post.

What is defamation?
Defamation is an umbrella where all these other acts fall under: libel, calumny, vilification, slander and traducement (lawyers and their complicated words). Basically what defamation means is the coommunication of false statements that harms an individual/company/product/doggy/sect/book/religion/object etc

I know what you guys are most likely thinking, how can someone be accused of defamation for something written online? Most of you have most likely heard someone say there are no internet crimes in Kuwait. Well, that’s not true. Yes, technically there is no law dedicated to what happens online and there is no law that states anything about what anyone does virtually except for the new commercial law that has one article stating that board members can join board members meetings virtually (which I thought was awesome). But, just because there are no laws that regulate anything that takes place online it does not mean you can not get punished in Kuwait for defamation. So lets look at the law:

Article 209
“Any person who attributes to another, in a public place or within the earshot or sight of a person other that the victim, an event which hurts his reputation, shall be punished by incarceration for a period not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding two thousand Rupees or either of both penalties”

Okay I know the article is not clear, and there was a lot of debate when I was back in law school whether this article can be implemented on someone that is defamed virtually. Thanks to the ministry, they’ve stated that it does apply. Here is a link to a statement by the MOI [Link]. There is even a case where Article 209 was used against tweeps.

There is also a department for cyber-crime in the MOI that falls under the General Department of Criminal Investigation.

So what does all the above mean? Do we or do we not have freedom of speech in Kuwait? Are we not allowed to state our opinions? Well we do have freedom of speech by the constitution and to some extent, we enjoy that in newspapers and on twitter. You can state your opinion but you need to state facts and you have to have good intentions and not harm anyones reputation or be rude.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Note: There is another article for defamation in newspapers under law no.3 for 2006 and other crimes can happen online.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
Have a Kuwait law related question? Email me at ask@fajerthelawyer.com

The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.

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65 comments, add your own...

  1. amazing Fact says:

    Amazing Fact : Fajer’s basic degree is Civil engineering. ..yet great lawyer

  2. Adel says:

    Good god, I hope KFC won’t sue me 2 for complaining about their food after it caused me a rectal dysfunction.

  3. Unrelated Question says:

    Hi Fajer,

    Not to take away from the discussion here but I have an unrelated question that is a quick yes/no answer.

    Is it true that Kuwaitis don’t get an end of service benefit if they work for a private company?

  4. aaa says:

    Wasn’t there a case where they wanted to treat twitter under the Newspaper defamation law instead of the normal one? I remember being freaked out about Twitter because of it.

  5. Acerboy says:

    So whats the defamation Mark has done ?

  6. Acerboy says:

    Mark i think its high time you should start looking for a full time job,cos u never know who will come up next time and file a case against you and might even get ur site close down, as i believe your blog is ur bread and butter.
    Take precautions buddy you have a family !

  7. Caesar says:

    Fajer , just wondering – how is “not being rude” in essence part of a law ? Whose standard of rudeness is this judges by ? Is there an element of religious moral in the rudeness evaluation or good intentions ?

    Not trying to be cynical , just need to gain some granularity and comprehension of this law . If there is a religious connotation in this laws evaluation then technically it is not a law but a commandment by way of discretion . Either which way , the entire ruling would be subjective .

    Your thoughts please

    • Fajer Ahmed says:

      the article is stated above there is nothing about being rude, this post was written for the common man….. with that said I am sure a judge will use your common man theory to find out if someone is rude or not…..

  8. Intlxpatr says:

    It sounds like a harassment suit, like the person doesn’t really care about winning but cares about making Mark sorry he said something. Like “filing a case” against someone can keep you from traveling. It’s the sour grapes response of a citizen against something that annoys him. Sadly, it is also costly for the defendant. Sorry, Mark.

  9. Awesome topic! I just received a legal threat from the owner of Better Books and Cafe because I posted the Kuwait Times article on her shop being shut down. She emailed me earlier this week demanding I take my post down because it was hurting her business. I simply updated the post syaing she was open so I don’t know how her business is hurting. She told me her lawyers are watching my site for harassment. I told her I would counter sue her for harassment so I will see how it goes. I think some people have too much time on their hands and go after bloggers for fun.

  10. Salue says:

    people want to find any reason to sue a person to get money, let me restate about the money they want to get more ” money ”

    next thing u see girl sued a guy because he gazed at her chest and it’s considered sexual harassment

  11. Akbar says:

    What’s going on here?

  12. Sami says:

    In Kuwait, the bad guys always win.

  13. sarah says:

    Interestingly I was just visiting with a group of Kuwaitis that knew one of the children (apparently there were two recently?) that were viciously mauled in the Kairon (sp?) area by stray dogs. When the parent of this child went to report the incident to the police in that area, they made her sign a paper that they (the police) were not responsible for controlling these stray dogs. But then again it seems everyone goes to the police for everything. They talked about this video like everyone in Kuwait saw it, so it was not only on this website that it was viewed. I did not view this video because I can’t stand to see any animal harmed. They also informed me that after the government viewed this video, they opposed the killing that was in this video and called on the public to stop killing these animals and what they proposed was to capture these stray dogs and ship them to China because purportedly they eat them there – I kid you not! So instead of proactively solving the problem by implementing a dog catcher program where these animals are picked up, vaccinated and held in a shelter, much like we do in Dubai or the West they just want to ship them to China. Seems very odd to me how things are handled here. I don’t see how this is defamation when it is a video where most of the Kuwaiti population has viewed and commonly know who is responsible and who was mauled by these stray dogs.

  14. Thyro says:

    Who sued mark? this is getting rather annoying, Im starting to feel the need to actually do something about this whole freedom thing…. an opinion is an opinion.

    If I hate this business I can say “I hate this” no bad intention no good intention, the service or product you offered me was just bad. in fact if anything, not stating my opinion could lean towards being a form of deception for the next customer.

    If only you could tell us who this is, and we could start a flame war like those benihana people.

  15. kp says:

    Just out of curiosity, why is the currency of the fine listed in Rupees?

  16. Gizmoshow says:

    Excuse me, but the case against Mark was setback. Defamation as per Kuwaiti Law follows the same principles of, and was created under, the French Napoleonic Code, and yet, we don’t see people in France suing Le Guide Michelin (or others) for removing one star from a certain restaurant or for posting unfavorable reviews. The result, look at the rubbish restaurant reviews in Kuwait, they are all paid by the restaurant itself to praise them, freedom of opinion and blogs are becoming a piggy bank instead of promoting freedom of thought.

  17. RandomQ8 says:

    What is this about ?

  18. Marcel says:

    “You can state your opinion but you need to state facts and you have to have good intentions and not harm anyones reputation or be rude.”

    If you agree I would like to widen this sentence.

    That an opinion has to be backed by facts is an objective condition. Having good intentions might be considered as equal, though at a lower level and closer to a subjective conception. E.g. A country might be sure that bombing another country is a good thing, it’s doubtful that this opinion is shared by the people of the country which will be bombed.

    Harming someones reputation is subjective and depends on the circumstances. Take for example former IMF President Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK). Till about 2 years ago one of the most powerful men in the financial world with a good reputation.
    Nowadays he fights for his personal freedom due legal (civil-) cases against him because of sexual harassment of women at several occasions.
    Who’s fault is it that DSK lost his reputation? The room-maid of the hotel, who filed legal charges against him because of sexual harassment? Or the by power ‘untouchable’ regarded DSK himself?
    By the (partly) confession of DSK, his reputation was forever damaged with little chance to rehabilitation.
    Strictly taken were the reporters, who published first about the affair, damaging DSK’s bankers-reputation and so punishable by law. But they published anyway, because they relied on their sources. The right choice in the end, but not without any personal risk for the reporters, messengers and publishers.
    Imagine if it was only the case of the roommaid in New York. A lot of expensive spin-doctors and lawyers would have been hired by the accused for ‘damage-control’ of the situation and the room-maid would, most likely, have been exposed as a woman with no ethics or moral values.
    Fortunately for her, DSK had already a reputation in certain groups within society regarding his uncontrollable appetency for women. This was the reason that the earlier mentioned ‘damage-control’-policy couldn’t successfully be implemented.

    Being rude is ‘a priori’ personal and subjective. Often it depends on culture and the level of defensibility of the addressed person.
    Sometimes a person can feel offended while discussing subjects which are very important for him or her personally, but have no meaning whatsoever for the other debater.
    Take for instance someone’s nationality or religion. For many a no-go area to discuss, which is a pity because understanding and respect for each-other starts with communication. Open and fair. Even-though it’s not easy sometimes, a verbal disagreement is always better than a violent conflict.

    Using abusive words in a debate is ugly and ‘not done’. It’s shameful for the person who used them and the instant end of any discussion.

    • Chkltstfsh says:

      This post is so long in afraid of even starting to read it..

    • Fajer Ahmed says:

      are you a lawyer? I am talking to the masses here I simplify things, people should not be rude. period. I don’t want to get into this but I see what you are saying. :)

      • Marcel says:

        Hi Fajer, please don’t get me wrong. I sincerely appreciate your posts and it’s not my intention to criticize them.
        It’s your talent to explain complex issues in an understandable way. Unfortunately I’m not blessed with that skill.

  19. a says:

    Loool is this law a joke because people always spread nasty rumors about each other and that does end up ruining the reputations of the victims.. even grandmothers do it.

  20. a says:

    ”Reporters without Borders” have ranked Kuwait as the number one Middle Eastern country in ”Freedom of Press” (ie. media) in their 2013 Freedom of press list.. even more than Israel and Turkey.

    Kuwaiti newspapers have more freedom of press than the ”democratic and free” Israel and Turkey http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

    • Marcel says:

      Number 1 in the M-E and number 77 of the world. Though Reporters Without Borders mentions also some major concerns in their report.

      Turkey is ranked number 154. Not really strange for a country which has more reporters in jail than any other country.

      Israel is ranked at number 112. This low ranking is also no surprise, as allmost all complains came from Palestinian reporters and news-agencies.

      • Fajer Ahmed says:

        number 1 in the middle east yet if you read the link I posted you will find this “the Technical Affairs Section in the General Department of Criminal Investigations has prepared a statement about these crimes clearing that the State of Kuwait under the exposure of the western world through the internet, it was witnessed that some negative and strainge behaviours came out to our Arab Islamic society in which some cases one who committed them is not aware that these crimes are being punished for by law or even being contributed to create other crimes. ” (yes those spelling mistakes are there, and meh)

        • Marcel says:

          I was replying on ‘a’, who pointed out the Press Freedom Index 2013, composite by Reporters Without Borders.
          He added a link which was insufficient. I thought we agreed on the fact that statements must be backed by facts and underlying principles.

  21. Adsonic says:

    Is there anything we can do to help?

  22. Barney says:

    Sorry to break topic, but Fajer the Lawyer, I’ve been looking for an old friend of mine for a very long time. I fell out of touch with her since I don’t live in the country anymore, and I’m suspecting she might be you. Do you think we once knew each other?

  23. Barney says:

    Actually, I’m a she, and hardly a stalker- just a curious potential old friend. If you aren’t the Fajer we have been looking for for the past few years, I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable.
    I’m also sorry that people in the world today don’t recognize sentiment and compassion anymore, it’s really sad.

  24. Sumayah says:

    I’ve got a quick question. What if I’m trying to start up a women’s rights campaign in which feminists create a stigma against sexual harassers and put an end to men inappropriately hitting on women? The thing would be that if you are harassed by someone (or see someone harassing another) you would take a stealthy photo and send it to an instagram account (@womensrightskw) to create somewhat of a “sexual assaulter” list. Could I be put under trial for trying bring about social justice?

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