Death Penalty Worldwide

Kuwait

Last updated on April 2, 2011

General

Official Country Name

State of Kuwait (Kuwait). [1]

Geographical Region

Asia (Western Asia). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging. [4]

Shooting.
Execution by shooting is by firing squad. [5]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Kuwait, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35876.htm, May 4, 2010.
[2] U.N., World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[4] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 58, Law No. 16 of 1960; Kuwait Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 217, No. 17 of 1960.
[5] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 58, Law No. 16 of 1960; Kuwait Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 217, No. 17 of 1960.

Country Details

Language(s)

Arabic. [1]

Population

3,520,000. 3,520,000. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

Approximately 20. In 2008, Amnesty International estimated that Kuwait held 12 individuals under sentence of death. [3] In 2009, Amnesty reported 3 death sentences. [4] In 2010 Hands Off Cain reported five death sentences and one commutation. HOC also reported one death sentence in February 2011. [5] Amnesty International might report fewer death sentences (at least in 2010). [6]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2014 to date (last updated on December 12, 2014)

0. [7]

Executions in 2013

5. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

1 execution per 704,000 persons

Executions in 2012

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [11]

Executions in 2009

0. [12]

Executions in 2008

0. [13]

Executions in 2007

1. [14]

Year of Last Known Execution

2013. [15]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Kuwait, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35876.htm, May 4, 2010.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Kuwait, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35876.htm, May 4, 2010.
[3] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Jan. 1, 2011.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[5] Hands Off Cain, Kuwait: 2011, http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idstato=15000094&idcontinente=23, last accessed Feb. 20, 2011.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[7] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 50, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014. Amnesty Intl., Kuwait: Deplorable resumption of executions, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/kuwait-deplorable-resumption-executions-2013-04-02, Apr. 2, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Executions in Kuwait a ‘setback for justice,’ http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/executions-kuwait-setback-justice-2013-06-18, Jun. 18, 2013.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Kuwait: Deplorable resumption of executions, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/kuwait-deplorable-resumption-executions-2013-04-02, Apr. 2, 2013.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Intentional murder by laying in wait, or planned murder “is punished by death.” [1]

Murder.
Premeditated murder “is punished by death.” [2]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
A number of offenses resulting in death are punishable by death. Torture of an accused, a witness or expert, by a public servant and resulting in death, “shall be” punished by death. [3] Giving false witness, resulting in execution, is punishable by death or life imprisonment. [4] For piracy resulting in death, the punishment “will be death.” [5]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Attacks on or interference with transportation or communications, with the goal of harming people or property, resulting in death is punishable by death or life imprisonment. [6] Anyone who uses explosives with the goal of killing, spreading fear or destroying certain sites “shall be punished by death.” Buildings or utilities belonging to the government or to groups in which there is government ownership or a public interest, places of worship, areas where masses of people have gathered, or residential buildings are among those sites covered by the law. [7]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Anyone who uses or plans to use explosives with the goal of killing, spreading fear or destroying certain sites “shall be punished by death.” Buildings or utilities belonging to the government or to groups in which there is government ownership or a public interest, places of worship, areas where masses of people have gathered, or residential buildings are among those sites covered by the law. [8]

Rape Not Resulting in Death.
Intercourse by force, threat or deception is punishable by death; rape carries the death penalty when by a relation, guardian or servant. Statutory rape of a woman unable to consent because she is mentally incapacitated carries the death penalty when carried out by a relation, guardian or servant. [9] Statutory rape of a girl under the age of 16 carries the death penalty when carried out by a relation, guardian or servant. [10]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
Kidnapping by force, with the intent to kill, harm, engage in sex, disgrace the victim, force the victim into prostitution, or extort something from the victim or another party “shall be punished by death.” [11]

Drug Trafficking Resulting in Death.
The punishment “shall be death” for attacking or resisting drug law enforcement or public servant carrying out his duties under the drug laws, resulting in death. [12]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.
Drug trafficking “shall be punished by death or life imprisonment,” the penalty “shall be death” for recidivists, public officials, those who use individuals under the age of 18 in carrying out an offense, if the criminal has created a criminal organization, or as specified for certain drugs in a schedule to the law. [13]

Treason.
Waging or inciting war against Kuwait, undermining the defense, disclosing state secrets or assaulting the Emir or high officials, “shall be punished by death.” [14]

Espionage.
Some betrayal of military information or state secrets “shall be punished by death.” [15]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
A number of military offenses of Kuwaiti personnel are death-eligible under some circumstances, such as: cowardice, dereliction of duty, insubordination, insurrection, disclosing secrets, assisting the enemy, undermining the defense, some humanitarian violations and offenses set out in the Penal Code. Enemy soldiers can be punished by death for operating in disguise or violating international law. [16]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Human Trafficking: Kidnapping an individual for sexual assault or to force the victim into prostitution is punished by death. [17]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. Under Article 83 of the Penal Code, if the circumstances of the crime or facts about the offender (such as his past, character or age) call for leniency, an individual may be sentenced to a term of years; the law does not restrict the application of this discretion. Thus, for most offenses, the death penalty is not mandatory in Kuwait. [18] However, Kuwait’s anti-terrorism law prohibits application of mitigation for terrorism resulting in death. [19] Some sources list the death penalty as mandatory for drug trafficking, [20] but we did not find a similar provision in the drug laws excluding the consideration of mitigating circumstances.

Some sources list the death penalty as mandatory for drug trafficking, [21] but—in contrast to the anti-terrorism law—we did not find a provision in the drug laws excluding the consideration of mitigating circumstances.

Reports indicate that Kuwaiti courts, in exercising discretion, can be influenced by a payment of blood money compensation to a victim’s family, [22] but the law does not state that courts cannot exercise discretion if there is no such settlement. A discussion on the web page of the Embassy of the Philippines [23] indicates that courts follow a Shari’a practices in sentencing for premeditated murder, [24] which could include applying a mandatory death penalty in absence of a settlement with the victim’s family. [25]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Terrorist attacks using explosives and resulting in death carry the mandatory death penalty. [26]

Comments.
Reports indicate that Kuwaiti courts, in exercising discretion, can be influenced by a payment of blood money compensation to a victim’s family, [27] but the law does not state that courts cannot exercise discretion if there is no such settlement. A discussion on the web page of the Embassy of the Philippines [28] indicates that courts follow a Shari’a practices in sentencing for premeditated murder, [29] which could include applying a mandatory death penalty in absence of a settlement with the victim’s family. [30]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Murder.
Three men were executed in April 2013 after being convicted of murder. [31]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
Article 20 of the Penal Code prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed while under the age of 18. [32] Kuwait has acceded to ICCPR [33] and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, [34] which also prohibit this practice.

Pregnant Women.
A pregnant woman who gives birth to a live child will have her death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. [35] Kuwait has acceded to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which also prohibits the execution of pregnant women. [36]

Women With Small Children.
Reporting before the U.N. Human Rights Council indicates that the death penalty is not applied to new mothers. [37] This could be the result of a related law prohibiting the death penalty for a pregnant woman who gives birth to a live child. [38] Also, Kuwait has acceded to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which prohibits the execution of nursing mothers. [39]

Mentally Ill.
Proceedings may be suspended for individuals who are mentally unfit to stand trial. A court may find that a defendant has diminished responsibility due to mental illness at the time of the offense, or may acquit the defendant. [40] There is no indication, however, that the law prohibits the execution of individuals who have become insane while awaiting execution of their death sentence.

References

[1] Kuwait Penal Code, arts. 149(2)(1)-151, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[2] Kuwait Penal Code, arts. 149(2)(1)-151, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[3] Kuwait Act Amending Provisions of the Penal Code, art. 53, No. 31 of 1970.
[4] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 137, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[5] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 252, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[6] Kuwait Penal Code, arts. 170-171, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[7] Kuwait Law Regarding Explosives Offenses, art. 1, No. 35 of 1985.
[8] Kuwait Law Regarding Explosives Offenses, art. 1, No. 35 of 1985.
[9] Kuwait Penal Code, arts. 186-187, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[10] Kuwait Penal Code, arts. 186-187, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[11] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 180, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[12] Kuwait Decree on the Control of Psychotropic Substances and Regulation of Use and Trafficking, art. 50, Law No. 48 of 1987; Kuwait Act Concerning the Fight Against Drugs and Regulating Use and Trafficking, art. 50, Law No. 74 of 1983.
[13] Kuwait Act Concerning the Fight Against Drugs and Regulating Use and Trafficking, arts. 31, 31(2), 32(2), Law No. 74 of 1983.
[14] Kuwait Act Amending Provisions of the Penal Code, arts. 1, 6, 8, 11, 18, 23-24, No. 31 of 1970.
[15] Kuwait Act Amending Provisions of the Penal Code, art. 11, No. 31 of 1970.
[16] Kuwait Law on Military Trials and Sanctions, arts. 41-44, 46, 56, 63, Decree No. 136 of 1992.
[17] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 180, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[18] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 83, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[19] Kuwait Law Regarding Explosives Offenses, arts. 1, 8, No. 35 of 1985
[20] Patrick Gallahue & Rick Lines, The Death Penalty for Drug Offenses: Global Overview 2010, p. 16-17, Intl. Harm Reduction Assn., 2010; Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 279 fn. 7, Oxford University Press, 2008.
[21] Patrick Gallahue & Rick Lines, The Death Penalty for Drug Offenses: Global Overview 2010, p. 16-17, Intl. Harm Reduction Assn., 2010; Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 279 fn. 7, Oxford University Press, 2008.
[22] Mark Joseph H. Ubalde, Pinoy on Death Row in Kuwait Gets Pardon from Victim’s Family, http://www9.gmanews.tv/story/162122/pinoy-on-death-row-in-kuwait-gets-pardon-from-murder-victims-family, May 20, 2009.
[23] Since a large number of Filipinos work in Kuwait, the Embassy has made this information available on its website.
[24] Embassy of the Philippines to Kuwait, Penal Law Issues and Punishments, http://www.philembassykuwait.gov.kw/sharia_penallaw.html, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[25] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 85-88, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 69-85, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[26] Kuwait Law Regarding Explosives Offenses, arts. 1, 8, No. 35 of 1985
[27] Mark Joseph H. Ubalde, Pinoy on Death Row in Kuwait Gets Pardon from Victim’s Family, http://www9.gmanews.tv/story/162122/pinoy-on-death-row-in-kuwait-gets-pardon-from-murder-victims-family, May 20, 2009.
[28] Since a large number of Filipinos work in Kuwait, the Embassy has made this information available on its website.
[29] Embassy of the Philippines to Kuwait, Penal Law Issues and Punishments, http://www.philembassykuwait.gov.kw/sharia_penallaw.html, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[30] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 85-88, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 69-85, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[31] Amnesty Intl., Kuwait: Deplorable resumption of executions, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/kuwait-deplorable-resumption-executions-2013-04-02, Apr. 2, 2013.
[32] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 20, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[33] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 20, 2010.
[34] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 16, 2011.
[35] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 59, Law No. 16 of 1960; Kuwait Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 218, No. 17 of 1960.
[36] U.N.D.P., Arab Human Rights Index Country Profiles: Kuwait, http://www.arabhumanrights.org/en/countries/country.aspx?cid=8, last accessed Feb. 16, 2011.
[37] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Kuwait, para. 39, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/15/15, Jun. 16, 2010. This self-reported practice or legal restriction is consistent with the provision that pregnant women can be sentenced to a maximum of life imprisonment. Kuwait Penal Code, art. 59, Law No. 16 of 1960; Kuwait Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 218, No. 17 of 1960. However, we did not find the specific law that prohibits the execution of new mothers.
[38] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 59, Law No. 16 of 1960; Kuwait Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 218, No. 17 of 1960.
[39] U.N.D.P., Arab Human Rights Index Country Profiles: Kuwait, http://www.arabhumanrights.org/en/countries/country.aspx?cid=8, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[40] Kuwait Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 118, No. 17 of 1960.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

May 21, 1996. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [4]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [5]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [6]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [7]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

No. [8]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Yes. [9]

Date of Signature

September 18, 2006. [10]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [11]

Vote

Against. [12]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [13]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [14]

Vote

Against. [15]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [16]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [17]

Vote

Against. [18]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [19]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [20]

Vote

Against. [21]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [22]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb 22, 2011.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[8] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[9] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[10] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[11] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[12] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[13] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[14] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[15] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[16] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[17] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[18] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[19] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[20] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, pp. 3-4, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[21] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[22] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Kuwait’s Constitution provides that “[no] person shall be subjected to torture or to degrading treatment,” but does not specifically address capital punishment or a right to life. [1]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

No.

Article 177 guarantees the continuance of treaties entered into prior to 1962; the Constitution does not otherwise reference international law. [2]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

Yes.

Commentary in the final report of the working group on the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Kuwait suggests that an unofficial moratorium on executions has been in place since the last execution in 2007; however, Kuwait’s commitment to that moratorium may be limited. Kuwait reports that its courts have restricted application of the death penalty to the most serious crimes, [3] but its last execution (in 2007) was for drug trafficking. The years immediately prior to 2007 had seen an upsurge in executions, a significant portion of which were executions of foreigners for drug trafficking offenses. [4]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

There may be an unofficial moratorium in place; however, Kuwait did not support the Human Rights Council’s 2010 recommendation that it continue the de facto moratorium. [5]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

We did not find any published cases concerning the death penalty; however, they may exist in the official Gazette. [6]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

We did not find an online database of judicial decisions. However, some decisions by Kuwaiti courts (not necessarily on the death penalty) are published in the official Gazette. [7]

What is the clemency process?

A death sentence cannot be executed without the approval of the Emir, who without legal restriction may issue a pardon or commute a sentence. [8] Reports indicate that Kuwaiti law follows the practice of reducing sentences for murder offenses in return for blood money compensation paid to a murder victim’s family, and this is an important part of the clemency process. We found a report that the Emir has granted clemency to a condemned individual, indicating that upon a settlement with the victim’s family, he might further reduce the penalty. [9]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

No. [10]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Serious criminal cases are submitted to a higher court for automatic review. We do not know whether an intermediate Court of Appeal hears a capital case before it proceeds to cassation review by the Supreme Court. [11] A capital defendant might be permitted to petition the Constitutional Court to resolve a question of constitutional law involved in the defendant’s case, or to ask for a review of the earnestness of his defense. [12]

Military courts, which except in times of martial law can adjudicate only as to military crimes committed by military personnel, have a separate system of trial, appeal and cassation. [13]

Capital cases involving terrorism-related offenses [14] that, prior to 1995, fell under the jurisdiction of the State Security Courts (which have now been abolished), [15] are now tried in ordinary criminal courts; they are reviewed by a cassation court but not by the Court of Appeal. [16]

References

[1] Kuwait Constitution, art. 31(2), Nov. 11, 1962, translated by: International Constitutional Law.
[2] Kuwait Constitution, art. 177, Nov. 11, 1962, translated by: International Constitutional Law.
[3] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Kuwait, paras. 39, 80(18), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/15/15, Jun. 16, 2010.
[4] Capital Punishment U.K., Capital Punishment in Kuwait 1964 to 2010, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/kuwait.html, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[5] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Kuwait, paras. 39, 80(18), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/15/15, Jun. 16, 2010
[6] Ahmed Aly Kheder, Kuwait’s Legal System and Legal Research, para. 3, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Kuwait.htm#thejudicialauthority, Feb. 2010
[7] Ahmed Aly Kheder, Kuwait’s Legal System and Legal Research, para. 3, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Kuwait.htm#thejudicialauthority, Feb. 2010
[8] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 60, Law No. 16 of 1960; Kuwait Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 217, No. 17 of 1960; Kuwait Constitution, art. 75(1), Nov. 11, 1962, translated by: International Constitutional Law.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Migrant Worker Faces Execution, MDE 17/001/2010, Jan. 25, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Further Information, MDE 17/002/2007, Dec. 10, 2007; Amnesty Intl., Further Information, MDE 17/001/2009, Jun. 26, 2009; Embassy of the Philippines to Kuwait, Penal Law Issues and Punishments, http://www.philembassykuwait.gov.kw/sharia_penallaw.html, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[10] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kuwait, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136072.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[11] Kuwait Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 211, Law No. 17 of 1960; Ahmed Aly Kheder, Kuwait’s Legal System and Legal Research, para. 3(1-2), GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Kuwait.htm#thejudicialauthority, Feb. 2010.
[12] Kuwait Organic Law of the Constitutional Court, art. 4, No. 14 of 1973; Ahmed Aly Kheder, Kuwait’s Legal System and Legal Research, para. 3(3), GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Kuwait.htm#thejudicialauthority, Feb. 2010.
[13] Kuwait Law on Military Trials and Sanctions, art. 27-29, Decree No. 136 of 1992; Ahmed Aly Kheder, Kuwait’s Legal System and Legal Research, para. 3(5), GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Kuwait.htm#thejudicialauthority, Feb. 2010.
[14] Kuwait Law Regarding Explosives Offenses, arts. 1, 9, No. 35 of 1985.
[15] Kuwait Act No. 55 of 1995 Abolishing the Court of State Security; Encyclopedia of the Nations, Kuwait: Judicial System, http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Asia-and-Oceania/Kuwait-JUDICIAL-SYSTEM.html, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[16] Kuwait Act No. 55 of 1995 Abolishing the Court of State Security (note that our translation of this law was incomplete); Encyclopedia of the Nations, Kuwait: Judicial System, http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Asia-and-Oceania/Kuwait-JUDICIAL-SYSTEM.html, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011 Ahmed Aly Kheder, Kuwait’s Legal System and Legal Research, para. 3(6), GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Kuwait.htm#thejudicialauthority, Feb. 2010.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

The U.S. Department of State reports that “[t]he Central Prison Complex houses the country's only three prisons: a low-security men's prison, a high-security men's prison, and a women's prison.” [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

We have found no reports that specifically describe conditions on death row. The U.S. Department of State reports that conditions in general have improved for inmates due to the construction of new prisons in 2006. However, sanitation and lack of sufficient medical staff are problems, as reported by NGOs visiting prison facilities. Also, “authorities reportedly mistreated prisoners and failed to prevent inmate-on-inmate violence.” Prisons are slightly over capacity. Migrants are housed in the separate Talha Deportation Center, which reportedly provides adequate nutrition and medical services. The report does not specify whether migrants are held at this center facing or convicted of capital charges. [2]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Yes.

Sources report multiple foreign nationals under sentence of death in Kuwait. [3]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

One researcher reports that Saudi nationals and others are on death row; [4] an Amnesty International report indicates that one Filipina maid may still be on death row (typically, Amnesty would issue an update if her situation had changed); [5] news reports confirm that Filipina workers are currently sentenced to death in Kuwait with some frequency. [6]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

Yes.

On January 25, 2010 Amnesty International issued an urgent action request for letters appealing for clemency on behalf of a Filipina maid whose death sentence was confirmed by the Court of Cassation on January 19, 2010. [7] We found no further information on her status. However, Kuwait pronounces death sentences upon female migrant domestic workers with some regularity, often amid claims that they had been abused by their victims. It should be acknowledged that the Emir has commuted such death sentences on more than one occasion, although we do not know how frequently he intervenes. [8]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

Kuwait prohibits the pronouncement of death sentences upon individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18; [9] we found no reports of contrary practice.

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

Reports indicate a potential problem in death sentences pronounced on female domestic migrant workers who kill their employers or members of their employers’ families after allegedly being subjected to abusive conditions. Negotiation by the governments of foreign nationals may be a significant factor in whether a migrant worker is executed in such cases. [10] Historically, most executions in Kuwait are of foreigners. [11]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Yes. The U.S. Department of State reports that bar association attorneys are required to assist indigent defendants when requested by the court and that the defendants used these services. [12] The law indicates that bar association attorneys are required to represent indigent individuals by order of the court and that the court may determine their state-funded compensation and fine attorneys who do not comply. [13]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

The U.S. Department of State reports that bar association attorneys are required to assist indigent defendants when requested by the court and that the defendants used these services. [14] The law indicates that bar association attorneys are required to represent indigent individuals by order of the court and that the court may determine their state-funded compensation; our reading of the law is that this might continue until judgment is final. [15]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

None.

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

The U.S. Department of State reports that defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to confront their accusers and to appeal. Defendants or their counsel are able to access the evidence against them in preparation for trial. [16]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kuwait, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136072.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kuwait, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136072.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[3] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Migrant Worker Faces Execution, MDE 17/001/2010, Jan. 25, 2010.
[4] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Migrant Worker Faces Execution, MDE 17/001/2010, Jan. 25, 2010.
[6] Mark Joseph H. Ubalde, Pinoy on Death Row in Kuwait Gets Pardon from Victim’s Family, GMA News, http://www9.gmanews.tv/story/162122/pinoy-on-death-row-in-kuwait-gets-pardon-from-murder-victims-family, May 20, 2009.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Migrant Worker Faces Execution, MDE 17/001/2010, Jan. 25, 2010.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Migrant Worker Faces Execution, MDE 17/001/2010, Jan. 25, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Further Information, MDE 17/002/2007, Dec. 10, 2007; Amnesty Intl., Further Information, MDE 17/001/2009, Jun. 26, 2009.
[9] Kuwait Penal Code, art. 20, Law No. 16 of 1960.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Migrant Worker Faces Execution, MDE 17/001/2010, Jan. 25, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Further Information, MDE 17/002/2007, Dec. 10, 2007; Amnesty Intl., Further Information, MDE 17/001/2009, Jun. 26, 2009.
[11] Capital Punishment U.K., Capital Punishment in Kuwait 1964 to 2010, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/kuwait.html, last accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
[12] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kuwait, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136072.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[13] Kuwait Act Regulating the Legal Profession, arts. 26-27, No. 42 of 1964.
[14] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kuwait, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136072.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[15] Kuwait Act Regulating the Legal Profession, arts. 26-27, 32, No. 42 of 1964.
[16] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Kuwait, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136072.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee pursuant to periodic review of human rights in Kuwait issued Concluding Observations and Recommendations in 2000; the Committee urged Kuwait to limit the application of the death penalty to the most serious crimes, address the vagueness of the scope of some death-eligible offenses, and assure the right to a fair trial for individuals facing capital charges. [1]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

Members of the Human Rights Council pursuant to Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Kuwait made observations and recommendations: Kuwait supported the recommendation that it meet minimum standards in the application of the death penalty, particularly regarding restriction of the death penalty to the most serious crimes; Kuwait did not support recommendations that it establish a moratorium on the death penalty, prolong a moratorium on executions or consider abolishing the death penalty de jure. [2]

References

[1] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Kuwait, paras. 13-14, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/69/KWT, Jul. 27, 2000.
[2] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Kuwait, paras. 79(54), 80(10-18), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/15/15, Jun. 16, 2010.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

The general legal resource of the Gulf Corporation Council (http://www.gcc-legal.org/MojPortalPublic/Home.aspx) has been helpful in researching the laws of its Members. Our use of this database was supported by a translator through the WCADP.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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