Rights activist detained in Qatar

A human rights activist who was arrested in Qatar last week is being held incommunicado and is "at risk of torture or other ill-treatment," according to Amnesty International.

Sultan Khalifa al-Khulaifi was taken away after a two-hour search of his home and car by plainclothes officers who said they had been sent by the Attorney General.

Several reports describe Khulaifi as a blogger (and one suggestshe is the first blogger to be arrested in Qatar). But it seems more likely that he has been arrested because of his human rights activities than his blogging activities. He does have a blog, though it contains only a handful of items and the most recent one was posted more than a year ago.

Khulaifi worked for the Swiss-based Alkarama Foundation – which focuses on rights in the Arab countries – until early last year when he left to establish his own human rights organisation. Alkaramasays on its website:

We were recently contacted by him regarding three cases of arbitrary detention in Qatar, which Alkarama has transmitted to the Qatari authorities in the hope that they will release them. The three names are the following: Abdullah Ghanem Mahfouz Muslim Jouar, Salim Hassan Khalifa Rashid Al Kuwari and Hamad Rashid Al-Marri.

An interesting side-note is that al-Jazeera, which is often accused of ignoring negative news from Qatar, has reported the story on its English-language website, quoting Amnesty International's statement.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 6 March 2011.