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Rabat – The international rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) is once again putting pressure on Morocco. This time, the advocacy NGO is castigating the North African country for the extradition of Saudi-Australian Osama Al-Hasani on March 13.
Al-Hasani was first detained in Morocco at the behest of Saudi authorities, supposedly over allegations of involvement with political activism. HRW has also revealed another possible motivation behind the extradition, a car theft case from 2015, of which the Saudi justice ministry absolved Al-Hasani two years ago.
Michael Page, the Middle East deputy director at Human Rights Watch, said that “The Moroccan authorities’ dismissal of al-Hasani’s justified fear of ill-treatment and unfair trial upon return makes a mockery of their international human rights obligations.”
But that is ignoring the duty that the two countries uphold towards each other under their participation in the INTERPOL program. Besides, even HRW conceded that by the time Moroccan authorities has processed the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ “urgent request,” they “had already extradited [Al-Hasani] to Saudi Arabia”
The advocacy group is calling on the Australian government to press the Saudi authorities “to immediately disclose the whereabouts of its citizen” on the grounds of Al-Hasani’s dual nationality. For its part, Saudi Arabia does not legally recognize dual-citizenships.
Moroccan authorities first detained Al-Hasani on February 8, upon receiving a Saudi Interpol notice. He was apprehended in Tangier when he flew to Morocco to join his wife and baby daughter.
Since his extradition on March 13, Al-Hasani has not been heard from and currently his whereabouts remain unknown.
Hanae, Al-Hasani’s Moroccan wife, told the Australian broadcaster SBS that she was “afraid his fate will be like that of Jamal Khashoggi,” the Saudi dissident and US resident who was killed and dismembered in the country’s consulate in Istanbul, in 2018.
The arrest comes at a rather complicated time for the Saudi government, amid increasing accusations and criticisms over its grim record on human rights and allegations of infringements on personal freedoms.