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Kenyan worker rights activist released by Qatari authorities

Malcolm Bidali was arrested a month ago over allegations of receiving payments from foreign agencies to spread misinformation within the Gulf country.

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It was reported that Malcolm Bidali, the 28-year-old Kenyan man who works as a security guard in Doha for GSS Certis, had been released after a month of custody. Although he had been released, the offenses being charged against him reportedly have not been dropped.

Salem Al Mohannadi, the Qatari owner of GSS Certis, the company Bidali worked for, affirmed Bidali’s release. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mohannadi said, “He has been released but I do not have any more details… This is a government case now. We are fully behind our country and it’s difficult to understand who is working against Qatar.”

At the end of May, Qatar’s Government Communication Office (GCO) released a statement over concerns that rights groups raised for Bidali’s disappearance. In its statement, GCO indicated that Bidali was “placed under investigation for violating Qatar’s security laws and regulations.” According to the GCO’s statement, Bidali is accused of receiving money from a foreign agent to spread disinformation in Qatar.

Bidali has written, under the pseudonym Noah, on his blog about labor rights issues, particularly those that migrant workers have faced, including long working hours, low wages as well as unsuitable working conditions in workplaces.

Several rights groups, including Amnesty International, MigrantRights.org, FairSquare, Human Rights Watch, and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre issued a joint statement asking the Qatari authorities to reveal facts about the situation of Bidali.

It is known that Bidali briefed a large group of civil society organizations and trade unions about migrants’ working conditions in Qatar a week before his arrest.

In recent times, Qatar has been frequently criticized for violating workers’ rights, particularly in a process where the gas-rich Gulf country prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In response, Qatar has introduced some reforms and regulations about labor rights, aiming to prevent criticisms targeting itself.

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