Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan security guard who posted a blog about life as a migrant worker, was arrested on May 5th.
A Kenyan national working in Qatar, who was arrested in the capital Doha earlier this month, has been accused of receiving payments to spread information in the country.
Malcolm Bidali, 28, works as a security guard arrested from his accommodation on May 5 and “investigated for violating Qatar’s security laws and regulations,” the Qatar Government Communications Office (GCO) said earlier this month.
On Saturday, the GCO confirmed that Bidali was “formally charged with crimes related to payments received by a foreign agent for creating and distributing misinformation in the State of Qatar.”
“Following a thorough investigation by the authorities, the case of Mr Malcolm Bidali has been transferred to the Qatar Public Prosecutor’s Office,” the statement added. “Mr Badali receives legal advice and representation before the court date, which has not yet been set.”
Noah and Bidali wrote on a blog under a pseudonym: Bidali wrote about issues related to labor rights, including long working hours, wage problems, working conditions and accommodation and inadequate conditions in their workplace.
A few days before his arrest, Bidali, who moved to Qatar in 2016, made an online presentation to civil society groups on the status of migrant workers in Qatar, giving his experience working as a security guard. security there.
He was also the target of a fishing attack. In accordance with @amnistiaIn the analysis, a link sent to you by a tweet resulted in a suspicious URL capable of recording the IP address and other data about the person who clicked on it. It may have been used to identify or locate you. #WhereIsMalcolm
– Migrant rights (@MigrantRights) May 28, 2021
Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) said authorities were giving unrestricted access to Bidali and that “it was being treated properly.”
The NHRC added staff from the Kenyan embassy who visited him and had contacts with his family and the International Labor Organization (ILO).
ILO officials rejected Al Jazeera’s request for comment, but added that “a statement appears.”
Kenya’s ambassador to Qatar Paddy Ahenda told Al Jazeera he could not comment on the charges, but added that he will meet with Bidali soon.
Human rights groups have expressed concern that their arrest could be in retaliation for a human rights task.
A spokesman for Migrant-Rights.Org, where Bidali used to blog about life as a migrant worker in Qatar, told Al Jazeera that the organization became involved with Bidali last year and “was willing to help other workers in difficulty, especially during the pandemic “. .
On Friday, rights groups, including Amnesty International, said in a statement that Bidali told his mother in a May 20 phone call that he was being held in solitary confinement and had no access to a lawyer.
He wanted nothing more than to make his grievances heard, amplify the experiences of other migrants, and even work with the government and related agents to maintain Qatar’s commitments to protect the rights of migrant workers.
– Migrant rights (@MigrantRights) May 29, 2021
On Saturday, in a post on Twitter, Migrant-Rights.Org said Bidali “wanted nothing more than to hear his complaints, amplify the experiences of other migrants and even work with the government and related agents to maintain commitments. of Qatar with the protection of migrant workers’ rights ”.
“It is important to emphasize that none of the posts and initiatives of the @Noaharticulates blog can be considered ‘misinformation.’ not maligning the country, ”he added.
Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and their human rights record have been under the spotlight since the FIFA 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded.
However, the country has carried out several labor reforms in the run-up to the mega-event that will take place in November and December next year.
In August 2020, Qatar announced it reference changes to labor legislation, including the annulment of the need for a certificate of non-opposition. A new minimum wage law was also introduced earlier this year.
Qatar’s labor ministry has said it welcomes workers to lodge their complaints.