Qaṭar: Swift show trial for human rights defender Abdullah Al-Maliki on fabricated charges


Local reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirmed that the trial in absentia of human rights defender Abdullah Al-Maliki will end quickly this week in Qatar with a harsh sentence expected to be issued against him.

On 26 May 2022, after holding only two hearings, the First Circuit Criminal Court will hold its final hearing in the case against Al-Maliki on serious allegations, in a trial that lacked the minimum international standards of fair trial and due process.

In this trial, Al-Maliki faces charges of allegedly "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, which has control over the judiciary, demands the application of Article 130 of the Qatari Penal Code, which includes the death penalty by hanging to death or by firing squad.

Al-Maliki has been targeted by the State Security Apparatus solely for his peaceful and legitimate activities in the field of human rights, including the peaceful protests outside of Qatari diplomatic missions in Europe that he began organising in late 2021 and has continued until now.

Despite his repeated written requests to the Embassy of Qatar in the German capital, Berlin, the latest of which was submitted on 16 May 2022, in which he asked them to allow him to appoint an agent to perform on his behalf the tasks he assigned the agent in accordance with the law, all of them were rejected, in addition to the refusal of both the embassy itself and the Qatari consulate in Munich to renew his passport, which expired on 09 May 2021, causing him many chronic problems.

Likewise, he did not have any opportunity to appoint a private lawyer to defend him, nor was he notified of the trial sessions at his official address outside the country which is registered with the relevant authorities.

Commenting on this unfair trial, Al-Maliki stated, "All of these grave violations are under the guidance and tacit approval of the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, especially since all the authorities and powers meet in his person." He stressed that, "The judiciary in Qatar is politicised and has lost justice for many years, and its judgments in absentia have little value."

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GCHR believes that this trial is a visible outcome of the failure of the State Security Apparatus to force his return to Qatar, despite the great efforts it made. He was tried on malicious charges in 2022, years after his departure from his country, Qatar. Despite the seriousness of the charges against him, the speedy conclusion of the trial, which began only on 12 April 2022, clearly shows that the State Security Apparatus uses the Qatari judiciary as a tool to silence, intimidate and punish dissidents and human rights activists, if needed, with the most severe sentences. There is no doubt that the judiciary in Qatar has lost its independence since 2004, the year in which the State Security Apparatus was established. The first article of Law No. (5) of 2003, which regulates the work of the State Security Apparatus and gives it broad powers, stipulated in Article (1) that it reports directly to the Emir of the country. This means that it not subject to any significant oversight.

GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the 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. GCHR urges the authorities in Qatar to immediately and unconditionally end his trial, and drop all trumped-up charges against him.

Once again, GCHR calls on all Western governments in the countries in which Al-Maliki is present, and where he exercises his peaceful human rights activities, to provide him with full protection.