Rights groups demand Qatar release ‘forcibly disappeared’ activist
Five rights groups, including Amnesty International, demanded Friday that Qatari authorities disclose the whereabouts of a Kenyan security guard “forcibly disappeared” after he wrote a blog criticising migrants’ working conditions.
Malcolm Bidali, under his pen name Noah, published a series of articles on the plight of foreigners who labour in the gas-rich host of the 2022 World Cup, including on vast construction projects for the football tournament.
In a statement, the rights groups, which also include Human Rights Watch, Migrant-Rights.org, FairSquare and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, demanded that Bidali be released “immediately”.
“More than three weeks after Mr Bidali was forcibly disappeared by state security services, authorities are still refusing to reveal his whereabouts or explain why he has been detained,” the groups said in a joint statement.
A Qatari government official confirmed earlier this month that Bidali had been taken into custody.
The rights groups said he “appears to have been detained for the peaceful exercise of his human rights”, noting that his seizure from his home on May 4 by state security forces came “barely a week” after a “phishing attack”.
“Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law,” the groups added.
The statement said that during a phone call he had been permitted to place on May 20, Bidali told his mother that although he had not been physically harmed, he was being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
The UN special rapporteur on torture last year defined 15 consecutive days or more of solitary confinement as a form of torture, the rights groups added.
International organisations have often slammed Qatar over the treatment of its hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, mostly from Africa and Asia, although it has reformed some employment regulations in response to such criticism.
A Qatari official said earlier this month that Bidali had been “placed under investigation for violating Qatar’s security laws and regulations”.
But, the rights groups said, until his “location is revealed, and until he is either taken before a court to face recognisable charges or is released, his detention continues to constitute an enforced disappearance”.
FIFPRO, the global footballers’ union, said last week it was “concerned” by the detention of Bidali who “a week before his arrest, spoke to trade union officials about his experiences of working” in Qatar.