News National AFP to shed light on its role in jailing of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

AFP to shed light on its role in jailing of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

hakeem al-araibi
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the AFP would speak to Australia's involvement soon. Photo: AAP
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The Australian Federal Police chief is expected to shed light on its role in the jailing of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who was released from a Thai prison and landed in Melbourne on Tuesday after more than two months behind bars.

Labor, the Greens and advocate and ex-Socceroo Craig Foster on Tuesday turned their attention to how Bahrain came to issue the Interpol red notice that resulted in him being jailed when he landed in Thailand for what was supposed to be his honeymoon.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin would “have something to say” on the question.

“Whether or not there are issues around the AFP, I think the AFP commissioner will have something to say on that in due course,” Mr Dutton told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“We’ll have a look at that aspect of it.”

AFP has previously confirmed it notified Thailand that al-Araibi was travelling there and was subject to a red notice, without raising his protected status as a refugee.

Labor would block the Greens bill to establish a Senate inquiry, and instead question the department in Senate estimates next week.

Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim said he wanted to investigate how the 25-year-old permanent Australian resident was “dobbed in” and faced possible refoulement to Bahrain.

The proposed inquiry would report back on April 2 to reveal the processes that led Australia to notify of al-Araibi’s travel plans and that he was the subject of an Interpol red notice.

It would also look at the AFP’s actions following his arrest and the operation of the red notice system.

“We need to understand exactly what role the AFP played in Hakeem being arrested and stranded in a Thai jail for months,” Senator McKim said.

“Hakeem is a refugee and a permanent Australian resident. He should never have been put in this situation.”

Labor foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong said the opposition would use Senate estimates next week to get answers.

“We do need to consider whether or not the automated Interpol Red Notice system is fit for purpose, particularly when it comes to people who are found to be refugees,” Senator Wong told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Foster, who led a campaign for al-Araibi’s release, on Tuesday called for a thorough investigation into the role of the AFP.

“For many reasons. One is because, as the public, we need to be completely confident that the processes have been followed and, secondly, we need to ensure that the system is going to be changed,” Foster told reporters at Melbourne Airport.

He also called for changes within the governance of sports.

“We think that this was very much about the soul of sport, which has been sold, and money has infiltrated the values of both football and other sports,” Foster said.

We think that it’s time to start to claim that back, and Hakeem al-Araibi standing here and talking to Australia is a big blow in that regard.

“But also we want to see an investigation into Interpol and the use of red notices itself – not just Australia’s role, which was after the Interpol red notice was placed on him.”

Al-Araibi was facing refoulement to Bahrain, but was freed on Monday after the country dropped its extradition case.

Bahrain wanted him extradited to serve a 10-year sentence for vandalism that he denies, saying he was playing a televised soccer match at the time the vandalism was alleged to have occurred during pro-democracy protests.

He said he feared torture if he was returned to the country.

Australia lobbied Thailand for al-Araibi’s release and on Tuesday commended Thailand for releasing him.

“We also acknowledge the constructive dialogue that we have had with Bahrain in helping to resolve this issue,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

“Australia and Bahrain share an important and long-standing relationship, which we will continue to build upon.”

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