[Qatar] Poet sentenced to life imprisonment; fears for safety

English PEN joins the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International in condemning the life sentence handed down to poet Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami. On 29 November 2012, Mohammed al-Ajami was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly ‘inciting the overthrow of the ruling regime’ and ‘criticising the ruler’ in a poem. PEN believes that he has been sentenced solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

For more information on the charges against Mohammed al-Ajami, please see ‘Life in prison for writing poetry: Mohammed al-Ajami’ (Amnesty International)

Background

Freedom of expression is strictly controlled in Qatar, hampering freedom of the press and contributing to self-censorship among the media. Poets, bloggers, journalists and other civilians cannot speak their minds without fear of facing incommunicado detention, secret trials and other harsh repercussions.

Qatar’s accession to the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism in May 2008 further threatened free speech, as its provisions risk criminalizing legitimate activities.

TAKE ACTION

Please send appeals:

– Protesting the life sentence handed down to poet Mohammed al-Ajami;

– Expressing concerns for al-Ajami’s safety, and seeking assurances that he is not being tortured or ill-treated in detention, which violates Article 5 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

– Urging the authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and to immediately and unconditionally release poet Al-Ajami, who is detained solely for the peaceful expression of his opinion.

Appeals to:

Amir of the State of Qatar
Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani        
PO Box 923
Doha, State of Qatar    
Fax: + 974 4436 1212
Salutation: Your Highness

Minister of the Interior
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalid Al Thani      
Ministry of the Interior
PO Box 920
Doha, State of Qatar    
Fax: + 974 4444 4945 (keep trying)
Email: info@moi.gov.qa
Salutation: His Excellency

His Excellency Mr. Khalid Rashid Salem Al-Homoudi Al-Mansouri
1 South Audley Street
London
W1K 1NB
Fax: 020 7493 2819
Salutation: His Excellency

Copies to:

Attorney General
Dr Ali bin Fetais Al Marri
PO Box 705
Doha, State of Qatar
Fax: +974 4484 3211

 

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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