Thai Rights Groups Send Open Letter to Government to Release Al-Araibi

2019-02-08 - 9:17 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): A coalition of Thai human rights and civil liberties groups, academics and leading legal figures have called on the government to release refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi.

In an open letter to the government, the 57 signatories said the government should not deport al-Araibi on two legal and human rights grounds. They also called for him to be granted bail.

Referring to the 2008 Extradition Act, the coalition said that Al-Araibi should not be deported as extraditable offences should not be of a "political character".

The letter said Al-Araibi had been prosecuted as a result of an allegation related to his "opposition to or criticism of the Bahraini government and his other alleged offences also constitute political character".

It also said that under the UN Convention Against Torture, to which Thailand is a state party, countries are urged not to deport people to territories where they fear "persecution, torture, cruel treatment or a life-threatening situation".

"Since it appears that Hakeem has been subject to torture and unfair trial in Bahrain, it is reasonable to believe that he could face such risks again," the letter said.

It also said that under the Public Prosecutors Act, the case against Al-Araibi could be withdrawn as it was not in the public interest, nor related to public safety or security.

The signatories included the Human Rights Lawyers Association, the Union for Civil Liberty, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, labour unions and law and human rights lecturers.

Danthong Breen from the Union for Civil Liberty who helped organise the letter said it was unique as it involved local NGOs and was not driven by international groups such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) which is also a signatory, separately said the Thai attorney-general should use his discretion to withdraw the case to "reduce pressure from the international community and make our stand to protect refugees from persecution".

Al-Araibi is in custody awaiting his April court hearing on whether he will be extradited to Bahrain where he was sentenced to 10 years' jail in absentia for vandalizing a police station in 2012.

He was arrested by Thai authorities on November 27 at Bahrain's request.

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