‘They may have been detained in relation to their human rights work’ - Said Boumedouha
The Qatari authorities must immediately reveal the whereabouts and ensure the safety of two British human rights workers who went missing on Sunday and are feared to be held secretly and incommunicado in the country, Amnesty International said today.
Researcher Krishna Upadhyaya and photographer Ghimire Gundev, who were investigating working conditions of Nepalese migrants in Qatar, have not been seen since they checked out of their hotel on Sunday. They had earlier expressed fears to friends and colleagues that they were being followed by plainclothes police on account of their work.
Krishna Upadhyaya, 52, and Ghimire Gundev, 36 - both British nationals of Nepalese descent - had been working in Qatar since 27 August for the Norway-based NGO, Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD).
On Saturday, Upadhyaya texted a friend in Norway saying that Qatari police were following and harassing both men. The next day, he checked out of his hotel but remained in the reception on account of the significant presence of police and plain-clothed personnel. He texted his friend saying he believed it was unsafe to travel to the airport for his flight to Oslo. Upadhyaya is reported to have checked in for his flight, but airline KLM confirmed to GNRD that he never boarded the aircraft. Neither he nor Gundev have been in contact with their families, friends or employer since.
Amnesty has written to the Qatari government to seek information on the whereabouts of Upadhyaya and Gundev, and GNRD has also contacted the British Embassy in Doha and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Said Boumedouha said:
“The enforced disappearance of Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev is extremely worrying and the pattern of events reported by the men before they went missing indicates that they may have been detained in relation to their human rights work.
“The Qatari authorities must urgently reveal the fate and whereabouts of these two men and dispel the growing fears that they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
“If the Qatari authorities have detained these men, they must reveal why, where and if any charges are being brought against them. Both must also have access to lawyers of their choice and be protected from torture and other ill-treatment while in custody.
“Unless these men are to be charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence, remanded by a civilian court in a public hearing and brought to trial promptly and fairly, both must be immediately and unconditionally released.”
Abuse in Qatari construction sector