IRCT joins international calls for the immediate release of professional footballer and torture survivor, Mr Hakeem al-Araibi at risk of extradition to Bahrain and torture

January 21,2019

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) is deeply concerned for the welfare of Mr Hakeem al-Araibi, who has been detained for 50 days in Thailand pending possible extradition to Bahrain.

The detention of Mr. Al-Araibi, a 25-year-old Bahraini torture survivor and refugee with permanent residency in Australia, is particularly abhorrent because it was based on a red notice issued by Interpol against its own procedures, which ban issuing red notices on behalf of the country from which the refugee fled and that, in cases such as this, is said to have tortured the victim. 

According to the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, there are currently over 4,000 prisoners of conscience in Bahrain. 11 citizens died as a result of torture in Bahrain’s prisons in 2017. The UN Committee against Torture expressed concern over numerous and consistent allegations of widespread torture in Bahrain (who have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture) and “the climate of impunity which seems to prevail”, in its observations on Bahrain’s second and third periodic reports. Against this backdrop and bearing the specific facts of Mr Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, extradition to Bahrain would put him at a grave risk of torture and is therefore prohibited under international human rights law. 

IRCT President Jorge Aroche states that “at this critical stage in Hakeem’s incarceration, we urge civic society, and in particular its football institutions to use all of the immense leverage that football possesses, as well as the Thai and Australian authorities to assist in Hakeem’s immediate release, so that he can be safely reunited with his wife and rebuild the new life the Australian government has granted him in Australia”. Inspiring a sense of renewal to our global movement in strengthening preventive mechanisms against torture, the IRCT also supports former Captain of the Australian National Football team, Craig Foster, who is tirelessly leading the growing international effort in reminding all stakeholders of their international obligations and advocating respect for human rights.

Torture can have severe and long-lasting health and mental health consequences for the victims who survive these horrific ordeals and its impact can extend to the survivors’ family, friends, and the community as a whole. It is the deliberate and systematic dismantling of a person’s identity and humanity. In the 2016 Mexico Consensus, the global IRCT membership declared its deep concern “that torture and other grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, continue to be widespread and often systemic in countries worldwide: and that rhetoric instigating or condoning torture and stigmatising victims is growing in all regions of the world”