NHRC asks govt to ignore extradition bid
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the government to respect international standards and refrain from extraditing a former national team footballer to stand trial in Bahrain.
National human rights commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit said on Saturday she hopes Hakeem AlAraibi, who was stopped by Thai immigration on Nov 27 after arriving in Bangkok from Australia for a vacation with his wife, will be treated fairly because he has refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Due to his status, he should be protected under international law.
Ms Angkhana said the government does not have to extradite him. The Attorney-General's office on Friday submitted an extradition request to the Criminal Court on Bahrain's behalf as the Gulf state has an outstanding arrest warrant for him.
A court will rule next week on the request by Bahrain to extradite AlAraibi, who has been held in detention, where he has largely been kept in the dark on the court procedures regarding his fate. The 25-year-old, who now plays for the semi-professional club Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne, says he was arrested and beaten at the start of the Arab Spring protests in the Gulf state in 2012 and was granted refugee status in Australia five years later.
He was convicted in absentia on charges of vandalising a police station in Bahrain. But AlAraibi says he was out of the country playing in a football match at the time of the alleged offence.
Col Thatchapong Sarawan-Ankura, chief of the immigration detention centre -- where AlAraibi is being held -- said the court issued an arrest warrant for Mr Hakeem, and he would be sent to the court on Tuesday to plead his case. A lawyer acting for AlAraibi, Nadthasiri Bergman, said the court would ask him if he wanted to go back to Bahrain. "He didn't do anything wrong in Thailand ... so there is no grounds [for detention]," he said.