“Bahrain assurances on Hakeem’s safety if extradited are not to be trusted”
- Radha Stirling,CEO of Detained in Dubai
Radha Stirling has issued the following statement:
The recent statement by a spokesman for the government of Bahrain regarding the case of Hakeem Alaraibi, intended to assure the international community, only heightens our concern for his safety if Thailand chooses to extradite him.
Bahrain is notorious for inventing criminal charges against dissidents and human rights activists in the country; prosecuting them for fabricated crimes unrelated to free speech or political expression in a transparent attempt to disguise their overt repression of dissidence. Renowned activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, for instance, faced no less than twelve criminal cases manufactured by the Public Prosecutor to silence her opposition on social media. Some of these cases are still ongoing, and Al-Khawaja’s prison sentence keeps getting longer year after year. So when the government claims that the charges against Alaraib “do not in any way relate to political views or the right to expression”; it is just following the familiar pattern.
More disturbing, however, is the government’s claim that the vandalism charge is “terrorism-related”, because this can only be interpreted as a prelude to the invention of new, more serious charges that will be filed against Hakeem following his extradition. Bahrain has a deliberately vague legal definition of terrorism which it has frequently used to impose unimaginably harsh sentences against political dissidents and human rights activists. If Hakeem is extradited the ten year sentence he was given in absentia will undoubtedly be inflated by additional cases to the point where his incarceration will be indefinite.
In 2011 a Thai court agreed to extradite British businessman Michael Smith to the UAE to serve a two year sentence; however once Smith was in their custody, the UAE laid additional charges against him, eventually sentencing him to 12 years. Even after receiving a governmental pardon in 2014, Smith was not released.