Qatar: Fears grow for forcibly disappeared migrants’ rights activist

Qatari authorities must urgently reveal the whereabouts of Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan national who has been forcibly disappeared since 4 May, when he was taken from his labour accommodation for questioning by the state security service. Malcolm is a security guard, blogger and activist, who has been vocal about the plight of migrant workers like himself and has written for a number of online platforms. A week before his arrest, Malcolm gave a presentation to a large group of civil society organizations and trade unions about his experience of working in Qatar.

A coalition of organizations working on the rights of migrant workers in Qatar –, FairSquare, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – have contacted various Qatari authorities in the week since Malcolm’s detention. On 11 May a joint letter was sent to the Qatari authorities, urging them to investigate Malcolm’s disappearance as a matter of urgency. Late on 12 May, the government confirmed that Malcolm Bidali has been detained and is under investigation for violating Qatar’s security laws and regulations. However, the authorities have not yet disclosed his whereabouts. 

The organizations said:

 “Since arriving in Qatar three years ago Malcolm has been on the front line of the fight to reform Qatar’s labour laws, including by writing about his experiences as a migrant worker in the country. It has now been more than a week since anyone heard from Malcolm, and we are extremely concerned for his well-being, and that he may have been detained in reprisal for his legitimate human rights work.

“Despite our repeated requests to the Qatari authorities, we are still in the dark as to Malcolm’s location and the exact reason for his detention. We urge the authorities to disclose Malcolm’s whereabouts, and ensure he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment. Further, they must outline any internationally recognizable offense against him and ensure his right to due process is fully respected, including ensuring he has legal assistance. If Malcolm is detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, he must be released immediately and unconditionally.”