UK: Cross-party MPs urge Cameron to intervene in the case of Manuel Guerrero Aviña in Qatar

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has written to British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron to call on him to personally intervene in the case of the British national Manuel Guerrero Aviña, who is on trial in Qatar after a police sting using the gay dating app Grindr.

Ahead of a rally led by Manuel’s family outside the Foreign Office today (Thursday 16th May), 30 MPs and Peers have signed a letter asking Lord Cameron to ‘make personal representations to the Qatari government, seeking an urgent review of the due process failures in Manuel’s trial, and his early repatriation to the United Kingdom.’ This comes after Lord Cameron acknowledged in a letter to Kate Osborne MP on the 19th April that he was ‘closely following the case’.

Manuel Guerrero Aviña is not allowed to leave Qatar before his expected verdict on the 4th June. He was first arrested on the 4th February 2024, after police used the LGBT+ dating app Grindr to target him, and he was held for 44 days while being denied his vital HIV medication, withheld food and water, threatened with beatings and forced to watch other prisoners being whipped, as well as suffering homophobic abuse and discrimination.

Qatari authorities tried to pressure Manuel to reveal the names of other LGBT+ people in Qatar, and the names of previous sexual partners, further indicating that he was arrested for being gay. Qatar is charging Maniel with possession of drugs, but Manuel strongly denies they were his and says they were planted on him by Qatari police.

Human rights organisations National AIDS Trust and FairSquare will join Manuel’s brother Enrique at a rally outside the Foreign Office today (Thursday 16th May) between 5.30pm-6.30pm, calling on the UK government to do more to bring Manuel safely back to the UK.

Kate Osborne MP, Labour MP for Jarrow, said:

“Lord Cameron as the Foreign Secretary must personally intervene to get Manuel Guerrero safely back to the UK. It is unacceptable that a British national is potentially facing prison in Qatar because he is gay.

“Manuel’s treatment by Qatari authorities, including hours of interrogation and denying him vital HIV medication while imprisoned, needs to be addressed by our Government. UN investigators and Amnesty International have called out Qatar’s treatment of Manuel while our Government have remained silent.

“The Foreign Secretary must urgently speak to the Qatari government about this case, and he must demand an urgent review of the due process failures during Manuel’s trial. The Foreign Office needs to be doing all it can to push for Manuel’s immediate repatriation to the UK. Time is running out before Manuel’s verdict and sentencing date so we need to see action now from the UK government to get Manuel safely home.”

James Lynch, co-director of FairSquare, added:

“Since the very moment his ordeal began, Manuel’s case has been dreadfully and shockingly unjust. It is clear that the charges against him should be dropped, and at this stage we’re looking to the British government to stand up for his rights, make clear representations to the Qatari government about the unfairness of his trial, and support his immediate return to the UK.”

FULL TEXT OF LETTER FROM MPS

Dear Lord Cameron,

Thank you for your response of 19 April regarding the case of British national Manuel Guerrero Aviña, who was arrested by Qatari agents after an undercover police operation targeting his use of an LGBT dating app. We are writing ahead of the next session of his trial on 4 June, when he expects the verdict to be handed down.

We are encouraged to learn that you are closely following Manuel’s case, and at this crucial stage, we ask you to make personal representations to the Qatari government, seeking an urgent review of the due process failures in Manuel’s trial, and his early repatriation to the United Kingdom.

Manuel’s trial for alleged drug offences has been manifestly unfair. Amnesty International has said that it has been “marred by a range of due process violations,” while three UN human rights experts, including the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, have conveyed to the government of Qatar their “deep concerns about the reportedly discriminatory motives of the alleged arrest, detention, and ill-treatment of Mr. Guerrero Aviña”, as well as the risk of torture and other ill-treatment he was facing. Manuel’s experience follows reporting by Human Rights Watch in 2022 that Qatar arbitrarily arrested lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and subjected them to ill-treatment in detention.

As your letter of 19 April acknowledges, Manuel was deprived of HIV medication by Qatari officials during his time in prison, putting his health at serious risk. The conditions which Manuel reported while he was detained – including using the withdrawal of HIV medication as a punishment and his health status being shared with other inmates – give rise to very serious concerns about his health and wellbeing in any further period of detention. It is essential that Manuel be able to return home to access specialist medical treatment and medication on a reliable basis.

The UK government must demonstrate its willingness to protect a British citizen who was targeted on the basis of his sexual orientation, had his lifesaving medication witheld, and who has reported ill-treatment and torture. Failure to do so would not only harm Manuel’s case but may increase the likelihood of future arbitrary detentions of our nationals.

Yours sincerely,

The undersigned.

Kate Osborne MP

Caroline Nokes MP

Ben Bradshaw MP

Claudia Webbe MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Paula Barker MP

Baroness Bryan of Partick

Sarah Champion MP

Zarah Sultana MP

Lord Cashman

John McDonnell MP

Charlotte Nichols MP

Mary Foy MP

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Clive Efford MP

Olivia Blake MP

Nadia Whittome MP

Kim Leadbeater MP

Lord Prem Sikka

Apsana Begum MP

Sam Tarry MP

Ian Byrne MP

Daisy Cooper MP

Barry Gardiner MP

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

Wendy Chamberlain MP

Baroness Blower

Marion Fellows MP

Angela Crawley MP

Christine Jardine MP