Thailand extends detention of refugee

05-Dec-2018 Intellasia | | 6:10 AM Print This Post

A Bangkok court has extended the Thai immigration department’s detention of Australia-based Hakeem al-Araibiwho faces deportation to Bahrainby 12 days.

A refugee footballer at the centre of a diplomatic tug-of-war between Australia and Bahrain will continue being detained by Thai authorities after a court ruling.

A Bangkok court on Monday allowed the Immigration Department to extend its detention of Australia-based Hakeem al-Araibi, 25, for a further 12 days.

Araibi, who plays professional football in Melbourne, was detained at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on November 27 on an Interpol red notice requested by Bahrain. Under Thai Immigration laws he can only be held for seven days, after which a court order is required to extend his detention.

In 2014, a Bahraini court sentenced Araibi to 10 years’ jail for vandalising a police station, which he denies.

A former member of the Bahraini national football team, he fled to Australia the same year and was granted asylum after claiming he faced persecution and torture if he returned home.

He has been a vocal critic of Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa, the president of the Asian Football Federation and cousin of the Bahraini king.

The Thai Immigration Department’s court application to extend Araibi’s detention said officials needed to check his travel documents and nationality and were still in the process of getting more details from the Australian and Bahrain embassies.

The application also asked the court to deny Araibi bail, arguing he was a flight risk.

Araibi had been granted refugee travel documents by Australia for his trip to Thailand.

He is being held at Bangkok’s Immigration Detention Centre after being moved there from police cells at the airport on Saturday evening, several hours before he was due to fly home to Melbourne.

Araibi is said to be worried the extension would allow Bahrain more time to prepare documents for his extradition. Immigration Police said at the weekend if Bahrain did not submit an extradition order by December 4, Araibi will be returned to Australia.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asian Division executive director Brad Adams called the Thai authorities decision “ridiculous and outrageous” as it was clear Araibi is a refugee who should be sent back to Australia.

“Australia needs to step up and fight to demand the return of Hakeem,” he said.

Australian Embassy staff in Bangkok have refused to comment on the case, but Foreign minister Marise Payne has said it has been raised with Thai authorities.

He plays professional football for the Pascoe Vale team in Melbourne.


Category: Thailand

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