KUNA - 6/5/2006
US media watchdog put Kuwait on top of Arab countries in terms of press freedom, and said the general free media exercised in Kuwait is something provided by the countrys constitution.
An annual study by "Freedom House" organization, a copy of which was obtained by KUNA on Friday, put Kuwait on top of 16 Arab countries and the Palestinian territories included in the study, followed by Lebanon. Algeria came third.
With all other countries categorized as "not free", Kuwait and Lebanon were the only two Arab countries categorized as "partly free" but the study said media in Kuwait remains the most vibrant in the region.
"Article 36 and 37 of Kuwaits constitution provide for freedom of the press, and the media are generally free to criticize the government, with some important exceptions," it said in the study which will be made public in the coming days.
These exceptions, the study said, are related to articles that might harm relations with other countries, jeopardize the value of the Kuwaiti currency "Dinar", offend moral sensibilities or material deemed offensive to religion or an incitement to hatred or violence offend moral sensibilities.
The Freedom House, which had concluded its study before the new publication law in Kuwait was unanimously approved by Kuwaits Parliament in March this year, made mention to the governments efforts in passing the new law, saying the Government of Kuwait in 2003 presented the new law to Parliament which would limit the governments monopoly on newspapers licensing, lessen prison sentences and ban the closure of media without a court order.
Describing the media in Kuwait as "the most vibrant in the region," the study said most print media in the country, five Arabic language and two English language local newspapers, are privately owned, but brought the attention that no newspaper has been launched in 30 years.
The study also praised the freedom provided to internet users, saying "Kuwaitis have free access to internet." Established 60 years ago in Washington DC, the Freedom House is a non-governmental organization tasked with supporting global freedom of press. Its trustees' council members include representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties, businessmen, leaders of labor unions, former government officials, academics and journalists. (end) sa.az.