For immediate release on 5 February 2019
Public statement on the extradition case against Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali Al Araibi
Attorney General urged to use his discretion
to withdraw the case to allow Hakeem to return to Australia immediately
Since 27 November 2018, Mr. Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali Al Araibi has been deprived of liberty by the Thai authorities. The former Bahrain international was arrested upon his arrival in Thailand for a trip with his wife. According to the Thai authorities, Hakeem was arrested as a result of the INTERPOL’s Red Notice. Even though the Red Notice had since been rescinded, Hakeem continued to be held in custody as the Thai authorities claimed they were awaiting an extradition request from the government of Bahrain to return him there. On 4 February 2019, Hakeem was brought to the Bangkok Criminal Court and was asked by the Court if he was willing to return to Bahrain per the extradition request filed by the public prosecutors of the Office of Attorney General’s International Affairs Department. Hakeem raised his objection against the extradition request.
Hakeem’s objection to the extradition request was followed by his attorneys, from the NSP Legal Office, pleading to the Court to ask for another 60 days – until 5 April 2019 – to file an objection motion with the Court. The Court has scheduled a pretrial hearing to review evidence on 22 April 2019 at 9.00am. The day he was brought to the Court, he arrived with his feet shackled – the incidence of which could be tantamount to an infringement of human dignity since he has not committed a felony crime, has been granted refugee status in Australia and has never committed any illegal offence in Thailand. Until now, Hakeem has been incarcerated at the Bangkok Remand Prison for 71 days and it is likely that he will remain held in custody until the conclusion of the proceeding.
Surapong Kongchantuk, President of Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), who has been monitoring the legal proceeding against Hakeem has this to say “The removal or withdrawal of an extradition case can be done, legally, at the discretion of the Attorney General. It should serve public interest and be favorable to international relations, between the country of origin, namely, Bahrain and the receiving country, namely, Australia which has granted a refugee status to Hakeem after more than three years of the vetting process”
“By using his discretion to withdraw the case, the Attorney General will also help to reduce pressure from the international community, and make our stand to protect refugees from persecution, or any cause that may have led to torture or unfair treatment, and to ensure refugees are placed in a safe country clear to the world. Such reactive outpouring is now impairing the nation’s reputation and optics, and it may do a disservice to our country’s interest. If we continue to wait until the conclusion of the proceeding, it will take a long time and may not benefit Thailand” Surapong Kongchantuk added.
According to Section 21 of the Public Prosecution Organ and Public Prosecutors Act, BE 2553, public prosecutors can independently rule on a lawsuit and are obliged to discharge duties under the Constitution and laws, faithfully and fairly. Even though the extradition case against Hakeem has already been filed with the Court, should the public prosecutor find that such criminal prosecution will not serve public interest, will affect national safety or security, or will impair significant interest of the State, it can be proposed to the Attorney General who can issue a non-prosecution order or can withdraw the case. The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) therefore urges the Attorney General to use his discretion to withdraw the case to ensure the protection of human rights of refugees in compliance with international standards.
For more information, please contact Surapong Kongchantuk, President of Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), phone 081-6424006