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Extradition of Bahraini Football Player Moves Ahead

Author: Minky Worden, Human Rights Watch, Published on: 11 December 2018

This week Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi was taken to Bangkok Criminal Court, where bail was denied and his detention was extended for 60 days so Thailand can prepare his extradition to Bahrain, a country where he has said he was tortured. Al-Araibi... is a recognized refugee in Australia, where he now lives, and Canberra has requested Thailand allow him to return home. The Australian Football Federation, the Football Melbourne league, and his local Melbourne team have all appealed for his safe return... Speaking to Human Rights Watch from a Thai detention center on December 6, al-Araibi said: “Bahrain is a state that has no human rights. My life is in danger. FIFA should protect me and all players.”  He added, “I want to tell President Infantino that he has the power to save my life – and I am asking him to help.” FIFA, the powerful global football body, has called urgently for al-Araibi’s freedom, saying it “is committed to the respect of internationally recognized human rights,” and concluding that it “supports the calls for the Thai authorities to allow Mr. Al-Arabi to return to Australia…at the earliest possible moment.” But FIFA can do more. FIFA has recently made numerous reforms to uphold human rights, and has leverage over al-Araibi’s forced return to Bahrain. FIFA’s Vice President is Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s ruling family... Sheikh Salman’s senior position within both FIFA and the Bahraini ruling family makes him well-positioned to stop the extradition, and should act immediately...

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