KUWAIT: SARAH AL-DREES
TRIAL OBSERVATION REPORT
8 December 2016
1. This report follows a Trial Observation mission conducted on behalf of a coalition of
rights groups from 20 to 24 November 2016 in Kuwait. The author is a practising
barrister, called to the Bar of England & Wales, with experience of criminal defence,
media law and human rights.
2. The coalition of rights groups which monitored the trial was composed of the Gulf
Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the Arabic Network for Human Rights
Information (ANHRI), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), and FIDH and
the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework of the
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
3. The author attended the hearing of the Defendant, Sarah Al-Drees, in the Court of
First Instance in Kuwait City on Thursday 24 November 2016. The analysis of the
charges and prosecution has been supplemented by field investigation and
consultation with human rights defenders in Kuwait.
4. There is an addendum to the Trial Observation Report which details wider legal issues
facing journalists and human rights defenders in the country, which forms part of the
context to ongoing prosecutions by the State in 2016.
5. Sarah Al-Drees is a 29-year-old Kuwaiti citizen. She is a teacher, with a history of
human rights activism, and a blogger, with a significant following on social media,
including 185,000 on Twitter and 57,000 on Instagram.
6. She was first prosecuted by the authorities in 2013, receiving a 20-month sentence for
“insulting the Emir”, Kuwait’s hereditary executive ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad
Al-Sabah. Four tweets made reference to repression of Kuwait’s then nascent political
movements. The Appeal Court upheld the sentence but Al-Drees was subsequently