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Hakeem Al-Araibi’s case is a true test of Fifa’s new human rights policy

Author: Minky Worden, Human Rights Watch, Published on: 6 December 2018

The news refugee Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi was detained by the Thai authorities on a “red notice” by Interpol has rocked the sports world. A “red notice” is a request to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition... Thailand’s immigration chief... says Bahrain requested the player’s arrest in advance of his arrival in Thailand, which suggests he was under surveillance even in Australia... Fifa, the powerful global football federation, has clear rules on player rights, human rights and human rights defenders, and has the leverage to prevent the refugee football player’s forced return to Bahrain. That means Al-Araibi’s case is a true test of Fifa’s new human rights policy: will Fifa stand with a football player and defend him against rich and powerful human rights abusers like the Bahraini government?... In 2012, Al-Araibi came forward to say Bahraini authorities had arrested and tortured him in detention, allegedly for his brother’s political activities. In 2014, Al-Araibi was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalising a police station – charges he denies... But while on a holiday in Thailand with his wife last month, he was stopped at Bangkok airport and he now finds himself in a tug of war between Australia and Bahrain. In the middle of this battle is Thailand. Al-Araibi’s fate lies in their hands, and Fifa can and should influence their decision...

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