A seven year Army veteran and her girlfriend working as contractors in Kuwait found themselves facing up to a quarter century of jail time.
According to ClickOnDetroit, 32 year old Monique Coverson and Larissa Joseph were arrested last May, when Kuwaiti police kicked in their door at around 3AM. Upon searching the domicile, police found an ounce of a tobacco-like substance. After sending the substance to Germany for testing, it was discovered the substance was a synthetic marijuana known as K2, which is legal in Kuwait.
Monique’s family claims that something happened after the results came back from the lab. Although the girl’s’ lawyer claimed that the two would be fine due to the legal standings of K2, both girls remained in prison, waiting on a court date. When a trial date finally came, they were no longer looking at an ounce of K2- they were accused of possession of a pound of hash.
Drug laws in Kuwait are very strict. In a country where being caught with alcohol can land you with long jail sentences, fines and deportation, being accused of marijuana possession could potentially be a life or death affair.
On January 16th, Coverson and Joseph were charged and sentenced to twenty five years in a Kuwaiti prison.
Coverson’s family feels that Monique and Larissa were unfairly targeted due to their same-sex relationship.
“They live an alternative lifestyle. That’s accepted here, but not in foreign countries,” said Ashley Frank, Coverson’s sister.
In fact, Kuwait has a rather complicated view towards homosexuality. According to RollingOut, even though being gay is not entirely illegal, homosexuals are still prosecuted under the “debauchery” law. The Kuwaiti penal code contains provisions that can easily be used to target those in the LGBT community.
Coverson’s mother, Michelle Jackson has worked with her family to set up an online petition, asking for the US government to look into the possibility of the wrongful imprisonment of her daughter and her girlfriend. As of now the petition, located at petition.org, has received 17,220 signatures out of a goal of 25,000. “My daughter Monique earned a stellar record for her seven years as a soldier in the United States Army, stationed in Kuwait”, Jackson said on the petition’s page. “Now, she and her partner wallow in a Kuwaiti prison, facing 25 years on baseless charges.”
For the moment, Coverson and her significant other are in a local jail, awaiting transfer to a Kuwaiti national prison. Though conditions are currently liveable, Coverson’s family worries for the safety of the girls after the transfer is complete.
The American Embassy said they were not aware of Coverson’s situation. They are working with the State Department to investigate.
Coverson’s family has more than one tie with Kuwait. In 1991, her father helped liberate the then-occupied nation in Operation Desert Storm.
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