Qaṭar: Online activist released but two colleagues kept in arbitrary detention


Local reports confirmed that the authorities have released an Internet activist but kept his two colleagues in arbitrary detention.

On 22 September 2022, the State Security Apparatus released Internet activist Issa Mardi Juhaim Al-Shammari whilst continuing to arbitrarily detain his two colleagues, Internet activists, Abdullah bin Ahmed Bu Matar Al-Mohannadi and Saud bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Thani.

On 21 July 2022, the State Security Apparatus simultaneously arbitrarily arrested the three activists due to their peaceful activities on social media. The activists attracted the ire of the authorities and became a target after they announced the establishment of the “National Campaign for Travel-Banned Citizens” on 12 July 2022. The Campaign, which organises various social media activities, includes a number of citizens who have been arbitrarily prevented from traveling for many years. The three citizens subjected to arbitrarily detention were among its members and attended its founding meeting, which was documented by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

During the founding meeting, Al-Mohannadi was elected to be the general coordinator of the campaign, Al-Thani, to carry out the duties of its international relations coordinator, and Al-Shammari to be its media coordinator.

The GCHR has also previously documented the grave violations committed against them. A travel ban has been imposed on both Al-Mohannadi and Al-Thani, while all personal documents belonging to Al-Shammari have been confiscated since October 2014, and he has been deprived of all his rights as he is prohibited from getting married, obtaining employment, accessing Medicare, and cannot even get a mobile phone chip.

So far, no explanations for these arbitrary measures have been provided. The three citizens have turned to the Qatari courts to assert their rights, but to no avail due to the insistence of the State Security Apparatus to continue violating their rights, and its absolute control over the judiciary.

Reliable local sources confirmed that the State Security Apparatus placed them in solitary confinement throughout their detention period, preventing them from contacting their families or lawyers, isolating them from the outside world, and tightening the guards on them. All this despite the fact that they are law-abiding citizens who did not commit any legal transgression. However, despite this, the authorities that had the duty to protect them flagrantly violated their basic rights.

Whilst GCHR welcomes the release of Internet activist Issa Al-Shammari, it calls on the authorities in Qatar to compensate him for all the damages he sustained due to the confiscation of his personal documents for many years and his arbitrary imprisonment. The authorities should release his two fellow Internet activists, Abdullah Al-Mohannadi and Saud Al-Thani, unconditionally, and compensate them for the extensive damages caused to them due to their prolonged travel ban and arbitrary imprisonment simply for claiming their right to freedom of movement.

The government in Qatar should respect the basic rights of citizens, including freedom of expression online and offline, and freedom of association.