FIFA accused of complicity in ‘human rights disgrace’

The family of jailed World Cup whistleblower Abdullah Ibhais accused Fifa and President Gianni Infantino of “insensitivity” and of being “accomplices” in the “human rights disgrace” that “torn” his young family.

The statement read, “We refuse to take a step back.” We call on the Qatari authorities for the immediate release of Abdullah and ask all human rights organizations, journalists, activists, players and World Cup spectators to raise their voices and call for Freedom for Abdullah.”

Ibhais’ case was referred to a team of UN human rights experts on Wednesday, which the family hopes will result in an official statement that his case constitutes arbitrary detention.

In August 2019, Ibhais recommended to the Qatar High Committee to acknowledge their role in abuses against migrant workers related to stadium construction.

A file was then submitted by the High Committee containing serious allegations about Ibhais that saw his arrest by the Qatari state security. He signed a confession under duress and was convicted in April 2021 of “bribery”, “violation of the integrity of tenders and profits” and “willful damage to public funds” based entirely on his confession in April 2021.

Ibhais later contacted human rights groups about his case and provided detailed information to support his claims. Human Rights Watch and FairSquare published details of the case and fair trial violations in October 2021. Ibhais was arrested in November 2021 and Qatari authorities said they would serve his prison sentence.

Qatar denied the allegations and insisted that Ibhais be convicted based on “a lot of strong and convincing evidence”.

If Ibhais does not receive amnesty, he will serve his full sentence. His prison sentence saw him spend four days in solitary confinement, from November 2-6, “after being physically assaulted by the guards… in near-freezing temperatures as the prison’s central air conditioner was used as a torture device.”

A general view next to the Fifa World Cup logo on the cornice (Getty Images)

A general view next to the Fifa World Cup logo on the cornice (Getty Images)

Human rights groups have urged Fifa to use their enormous leverage to call for a fair trial, especially for Ibhais.

The global governing body has so far echoed the line “any person deserves a fair and legal trial followed and respected”, which FairSquare has said is pointless, and described their message as “co-stepping” with Supreme. Board.

This is one of the many factors that has the family talking again as the World Cup draws to a close. A statement highlighted the contrast between the opening ceremony on November 20 and the conditions Ibhais was subjected to just miles away.

“The stark difference between the two scenes during the World Cup opening will always bother us as his family. On the one hand, football fans around the world celebrated the start of the long-awaited event with all the joy, talent, surprises and fun it carried when the World Cup took place.”

The statement then details Ibhais’ statement to his family.

“I think the temperature reached four degrees Celsius at some point. I was already suffering from a few bruises after the guards attacked and I was constantly shivering as the cold air directed at me never stopped. I hardly slept for those four days.”

Then, “the prison administration used this torture as an excuse, trying to ‘smuggle’ a letter to his wife!”

“As Doha disappointed him, Abdullah Ibhais has exhausted all legal channels,” the statement said. “From the beginning he was denied a chance to get a fair trial, he was questioned without a lawyer by the State Security police in a case they admitted was not related to state security.

“While Abdullah was awaiting trial, he was denied access to any information about his case for a full year. Abdullah was allowed to make an oral defense in only one hearing at the three court levels before him; his lawyer was only allowed to speak for five minutes.

“Dear Abdullah stood up bravely for his conscience, for his family, for his children, and for a country he thought set an example in holding the first World Cup in an Arab State. He was not afraid to challenge his superiors. Abdullah was trying to showcase Qatar at its best, to own up to its faults and to do what was right for them and all the migrant workers who suffered as a result. We never thought that he would be a political prisoner. Abdullah used Fifa’s own systems to raise his voice; instead he was punished.

The statement continues to criticize Fifa and Infantino in the harshest way.

As the Abdullah Ibhais Family, we address FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, who once said that the World Cup was the voice of the marginalized. Your actions did not keep your promises. FIFA is complicit in Abdullah’s imprisonment, and FIFA’s silence is tearing our family apart. We reject FIFA’s callous indifference. We refuse to back down: Today we call on Fifa to take responsibility and finally stand up for this human rights disgrace.”

The statement also alleges what they believe was the primary factor in his detention.

“But the real reason is, “Qatar: A State of Fear?” It is the publication of the documentary. On ITV1 in the UK, where Abdullah’s case is one of the main cases presented. The Qatari embassy in London sent ITV1’s response to a request for comment on 30 October. Abdullah was in the cell two days later, the day before the broadcast.”

The Independent has contacted FIFA for comment.

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