2019 Roundup: Ali Al-Shuwaikh Extradition Case Finds Echo in The Netherlands

2020-01-30 - 7:59 p

Bahrain Mirror (2019 Roundup): The case of asylum seeker Ali Al-Shuwaikh (27 years old), whom the Netherlands deported to Bahrain at the end of 2018, found an echo in 2019. The Bahraini intelligence arrested Al-Shuwaikh as soon as he arrived at the airport. After a Bahraini court sentenced him on February 28, 2019 to a life term, revoked his citizenship and fined him 500 BD over charges of harboring a number of wanted persons, many appeals were made to the Netherlands due to its insistence on extraditing Al-Shuwaikh to Bahrain.

Dutch media followed his case. The "Dutch News" website reported that a Bahraini asylum-seeker whose request was rejected by the Netherlands and who was extradited to Bahrain was sentenced to life in prison without a fair trial." The harsh sentence issued against Al-Shuwaikh highlights the seriousness of the risks that Bahraini activists pursued by authorities face inside and outside Bahrain, another news website said.

The Dutch immigration service IND said it would not comment on individual cases.

Although Dutch Ambassador, residing in Kuwait, Frans Potuyt had been in Bahrain a few days prior to the trial in an attempt to correct his country's mistake and although he met with the speaker of parliament, Fawzia Zainal, his attempt came to no avail. Dutch diplomatic, Witcher J. Slagter, tried to enter the courtroom where the hearing was held in public, the court guards prevented him from entering despite his several attempts, which forced him to leave.

Salam for Democracy and Human Rights demanded Dutch authorities to form a commission of inquiry into the reasons for rejecting Ali Al-Shuwaikh's asylum request and the reasons for not allowing him to travel to a country other than Bahrain, where he was extradited and sentenced to life in prison and stripped of his nationality, an arbitrary sentence that destroyed his future.

A report aired by the Dutch V1 news channel said that some opposition parties in Amsterdam began making moves to reveal the circumstances surrounding Al-Shuwaikh's case.

The report said the Dutch Government "unfortunately, carelessly dealt with the deportation of refugee Ali" and even the Prime Minister Mark Rota said: "We will not do anything to prevent his deportation and we will not follow up on the decision of the Immigration Department". The report noted that what happened to Ali Al-Shuwaikh was a reprisal against him "due to the political activism of his brother who obtained asylum in Germany, while Ali's asylum request was rejected by the Dutch immigration."

The news channel further reported that "Ali Al-Shuwaikh's lawyer filed an appeal against the verdict through the court, but the immigration department rapidly extradited him to Bahrain before waiting for the appeal's outcome." It also said "the organizations that took action to help him in the Netherlands worked within the framework of the law of not returning a refugee to his country if there is a danger to his life, and this law is still causing controversy, such as when a Sudanese refugee was also extradited."

"The humanitarian aspect was supposed to be taken into account as well as the risk that the refugee who was deported to his homeland would face, but unfortunately this aspect has not been taken into account," said the Dutch university professor Ashley Tarlau in the report.

In the same context, Dutch lawyer Flip Schüller said his client, Ali Al-Shuwaikh, had decided to go to the European Court of Human Rights, stressing that the Netherlands should not have deported him from the country.

According to a statement on April 20, 2019, the lawyer said he wants the European judge to force the Netherlands to exert diplomatic pressure on Bahrain to help his client and make all possible efforts to return Al-Shuwaikh to the Netherlands "because it is a big mistake that should not have been made."

The European Court has never asked for the return of any asylum seeker who has been deported or whose asylum has been rejected.

Ali Al-Shuwaikh is the first asylum seeker to lodge a complaint with the European Court after being deported, Amnesty International noted.

The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Department said it "did not expect things to go so fast," while Amnesty International accused it of "serious human rights violations due to the return of Al-Shuwaikh to Bahrain at the time it knew how the country was treating relatives of political activists."

Dutch newspaper De Volkskran said that the Dutch PM was severely criticized over this case. Dutch MP Bram van Ojik said the Government of the Netherlands cannot evade responsibility for the arrest and prison sentence of refugee Ali Al-Shuwaikh, adding that The Netherlands must do everything in its power to free him. Amnesty International urged the Dutch government to "intensify diplomatic efforts to free him."

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