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Malcolm Bidali released

Status: 
Released
About the situation

On 2 June 2021, human rights defender Malcolm Bidali was released after spending almost one month in prison. On 29 May 2021, he was charged with “offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation within the State of Qatar”.

On 29 May 2021, the Qatari Government Communication Office (GCO) declared that human rights defender Malcolm Bidali has been charged with “offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation within the State of Qatar”. The human rights defender has been in detention since 4 May 2021.

About Malcolm Bidali

Malcolm Bidali is a labour rights defender and blogger from Kenya. He has worked as a security guard in Qatar and his human rights activities focus on documenting and exposing online the exploitation and human rights violations migrant workers are subjected to in Qatar. Malcolm Bidali has also written for the organisation Migrant-Rights.org, where he has voiced concerns about the the work and living conditions in Qatar for migrant workers.

4 June 2021
Malcolm Bidali released

On 2 June 2021, human rights defender Malcolm Bidali was released after spending almost one month in prison. On 29 May 2021, he was charged with “offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation within the State of Qatar”.

Human rights defender Malcolm Bidali was detained on 4 May 2021, after his company dropped him off at the Qatari Criminal Investigation Department in Doha, following a request made by the Qatari authorities to his company. During his detention he was kept in solitary confinement, and was subjected to threats by the officers.

1 June 2021

On 29 May 2021, the Qatari Government Communication Office (GCO) declared that human rights defender Malcolm Bidali has been charged with “offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation within the State of Qatar”. The human rights defender has been in detention since 4 May 2021.

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Malcolm Bidali is a labour rights defender and blogger from Kenya. He has worked as a security guard in Qatar and his human rights activities focus on documenting and exposing online the exploitation and human rights violations migrant workers are subjected to in Qatar. Malcolm Bidali has also written for the organisation Migrant-Rights.org, where he has voiced concerns about the the work and living conditions in Qatar for migrant workers.

On the 4 May 2021, Malcolm Bidali was dropped by his company at the Qatari Criminal Investigation Department in Doha, following a request made by the Qatari authorities to his company to send him to the Department. On 20 May 2021 Malcolm Bidali’s mother spoke to him on the phone for the first time since his detention, which was only permitted following an intervention by the Kenyan Embassy in Qatar. The phone call lasted for 10 minutes, during which two security guards accompanied the human rights defender. Malcolm Bidali told his mother that he was in solitary confinement and that he had received threats but he did not specify what the threats were about. On 29 May 2021, the Qatari Government Communication Office (GCO), released a statement declaring that human rights defender Malcolm Bidali had been charged with “offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation within the State of Qatar”. The statement also declared that Malcolm Bidali’s case has been transferred to the Public Prosecutor, after “a thorough investigation”, and that the human rights defender is "receiving legal advice and representation ahead of the court date”, although the date for the court hearing session was not made public.

Human rights defenders working in Qatar face many obstacles and difficulties in the form of government harassment, restrictions on freedom of expression, travel restrictions and arbitrary detention. The detention of Malcolm Bidali took place a few days after he spoke at an online event about labour rights in Qatar, and the issues that migrant workers face. The human rights defender is a rare voice in Qatar shining a spotlight on human rights abuses against migrant workers in the country.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned regarding the arbitrary detention of human rights defender Malcolm Bidali and believes that his arrest is a result of his peaceful and legitimate human rights work.