Qaṭar: Human rights activist Abdullah Al-Maliki could face death penalty as trial begins

11.04.22

Authorities in Qatar continue to target human rights activist Abdullah Al-Maliki due to his peaceful and legitimate activities in the field of human rights, including peaceful protests outside of Qatari diplomatic missions in Europe. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is alarmed that he has been summoned to court on charges which may incur the death penalty and urges INTERPOL not to allow the red notice system to be used against him.

In November 2005, Qatari authorities revoked his Qatari citizenship, and he did not know anything about it until he made a routine visit to a government department. Two years later, in May 2007, his citizenship was re-instated, after international pressure on the authorities in Qatar.

The reason given for revoking his citizenship was an intervention he made on Al-Jazeera that was broadcast on 22 June 2005, during which he criticised the government's performance and the inefficiency of services provided to Qataris outside the country.

In that period, and until his departure from Qatar on 27 September 2016, Al-Maliki was publicly calling for the protection of the civil and human rights of citizens. The Qatari authorities, at the forefront of which is the State Security Apparatus, have continuously harassed him since then, despite the fact that he is residing outside his country.

After leaving his country and residing in various European cities, he sought to address international human rights organisations and urged them to document human rights violations committed by the authorities in Qatar and work to protect public freedoms in the country. He also addressed some United Nations human rights mechanisms, in addition to a number of European Parliaments, on the same subject.

At the end of 2021, Al-Maliki began organising peaceful demonstrations in front of Qatari diplomatic missions. He also uses his Twitter account to follow up on human rights issues in Qatar. He played an active role in supporting the popular peaceful movement of the Al-Murra tribe, which spoke out about discriminatory election laws. This culminated in the large mass gathering that took place on 09 August 2021, which was followed by mass arrests of the organisers of what can be described as the largest public peaceful gathering in the contemporary history of Qatar.

The above photo shows Al-Maliki’s participation in the peaceful assembly in front of the Qatari Consulate in Munich, Germany, which took place on 29 January 2022.

During the past years, the State Security Apparatus made great efforts to bring Al-Maliki back to Qatar, and when these attempts failed, he was tried on malicious charges in 2022, years after he was expelled from Qatar.

On 28 March 2022, Al-Maliki received a text message from the judiciary on his mobile phone stating that the State Security Apparatus filed a security felony lawsuit against him, and the start of the first hearing of his trial before the Criminal Court, First Circuit, is on 12 April 2022, according to the official document viewed by GCHR.

The charges against him include allegations of "publicly challenging the emir's exercise of his powers and dishonouring himself", "inciting the overthrow of the ruling regime", and "attempting to overthrow the regime."

The State Security Apparatus demanded that Article 130 of the Qatari Penal Code, which includes the death penalty, be applied to Al-Maliki’s case.

The State Security Apparatus in Qatar is seeking to use the red notice system of INTERPOL to return Al-Maliki to Qatar for his imprisonment and trial, despite the fact that the Qatari Ministry of Interior issued him in 2020 a certificate of good conduct, a copy of which was reviewed by GCHR.

Al-Maliki told GCHR, "I will continue to defend human rights in my country, Qatar." He added, "I will use all the peaceful means available to me, including the mechanisms of the United Nations."

GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the continued targeting and intimidation of human rights defender Abdullah Al-Maliki by the State Security Apparatus and demands that it stop harassing him, including through judicial harassment, and drop all trumped-up charges against him. GCHR calls on all Western governments where Al-Maliki is located and where he conducts his peaceful activities to work to provide him with full protection.