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  • Detained in Dubai

​Spotlight on Qatar human rights: "Australian govt. may face lawsuit for wrongful death of Jose

Joseph Sarlak at risk of death in custody as AU govt. fails to intervene on his behalf

Spotlight on Qatar human rights: “69 yr old Australian Jo Sarlak phoned me crying from Qatar prison as authorities won’t issue visa to get home” - Radha Stirling, Detained in Dubai

My morning coffee was disturbed by a gut wrenching phone call from Joseph Sarlak this week, whose situation is highlighting endemic human rights abuses in the next country to host FIFA. While countries like the UAE, Saudi and Bahrain have been widely criticised, Qatar has been contrastly praised for human rights improvements, improvements I am simply not seeing.

Jo has tried to be as strong as he could throughout the past three years of (proven) wrongful detention in the obscene conditions of a selection of prisons in Qatar. Joseph is 69 years old now and I can hear his failing health becoming more obvious each time he calls. He has been suffering from a multitude of health problems, but has been deprived of medication and hospital treatment for his conditions. “The pain has become unbearable Radha, it is constant and I find it very hard to breathe. The pain takes all of my attention and death before freedom seems likely”, he told me. “I am in limbo now, in a holding cell. It is pure filth where you wouldn’t house a pig. I can not leave because of a travel ban over a civil case that should not exist because all issues were resolved within the criminal system, but they won’t return me to jail where conditions are slightly better because there are no criminal cases against me.” Jo struggled on to tell me that the apparent civil cases were essentially opened to steal assets that he believes were already handed over.

Joseph Sarlak ventured to Qatar, like many other expats and investors, to pursue opportunities offered to them by locals. He partnered with a Qatari in a company who then used the company as his own personal “cash cow”, wrongly appropriating funds. This left the company unable to pay bills, which lead to cheques bouncing. Boun