Human Rights Watch says next few days are ‘critical’ for Hakeem Al-Araibi
Thai Attorney-General currently considering Bahrain's extradition request31 January 2019 | Bonita Mersiades
A human rights expert says the current timeframe is critical in terms of determining Hakeem Al-Araibi's immediate future.
Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, told ABC Radio this morning that the Thai Government is now considering Bahrain's formal extradition request of Al-Araibi.
He said that consideration of the request by the Thai Attorney-General, Kemchai Chutiwong, could go one of two ways.
“The Attorney-General has the discretion to rule whether to forward the extradition request to the Courts, or he could also send Hakeem back to Australia within days.
“All that is needed is for the Attorney-General to say the extradition request is out of order, as he is a refugee.”
Robertson says that if Mr Chutiwong decides to let it go to the Courts, the case could drag on for more than a year by the time each sides puts in their arguments, the case is heard, and allowing time for appeals.
“He (Chutiwong) must also consider other issues, for example whether the decision to extradite would cause major damage to Thailand's international reputation - which it most certainly would.”
Robertson says the Thai Government is mindful of the criticism it is receiving on this matter, and the international pressure is starting to have an effect.
“Thailand is less confident about their course of action than they were a few days ago. The fact that FIFA and the IOC have intervened has also shaken their confidence.”
Robertson also urged the Australian Government to take a stronger leadership role in the issue.
“The Australian Government needs to be more forceful in leading the international community,” Robertson said.
“Everyone is potentially at risk from this decision. Any refugee could be at risk. There is a larger principle at stake here: you don’t send refugees back to the country they came from.”
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Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister
Mr Don Pramudwinai, Foreign Minister
Mr Kemchai Chutiwong, Attorney General
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