Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, a Saudi national, has fled from her family due to her being forced into marriage and being subject to egregious physical and mental abuse. En route to her asylum in Australia, she has made a stop at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. While awaiting a connecting flight, someone who claimed to have come from the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Thailand with another individual who claimed to have come from the Kuwait Airlines, have approached her and held her in custody in a room at the Miracle Transit Hotel inside the Suvarnabhumi Airport. All of her personal documents including passport and plane tickets have been seized and she was prevented from boarding the flight to Australia. Currently, she is still held in custody inside the hotel’s room.
Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun has informed an attorney who offered to help her that it was not her intent to travel to either Kuwait or Saudi Arabia and being deported there would make her vulnerable to fatal risks due to her different religious belief and theirs.
The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) and Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) find holding Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun in Rahaf in custody is tantamount to a breach of her right to liberty and personal safety, a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand BE 2560’s Section 28. The circumstance involving the deprivation of her liberty could also be tantamount to an arbitrary and unlawful detention since until now Ms. Rahaf has not committed an offence against our domestic law while awaiting her connecting flight to a third country.
An attempt by Thailand via the Immigration Bureau to deport Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun who is seeking an asylum given her fleeing from a grave and imminent risk as a result of her refusing to marry and as a result of a religious belief is an act not in compliance with human rights standards, particularly in light of the right to freedom of religion and belief, the right to not be forced into marriage without one’s consent and the right to seek asylum in other countries to flee from persecution. Such rights are guaranteed as indispensable human rights and enshrined in various international human rights treaties including the Universal Declaration for Human rights (UDHR) and the aforementioned ICCPR. By making her vulnerable to persecution is also prohibited by the Non-Refoulement principle, which has been accepted as part of the international customary law. It demands that an asylum seeker not be repatriated or deported or evicted or extradited to another state, should there be a reasonable belief that she or he shall be subject to persecution.
HRLA and CrCF therefore demand the following;
1. Those involved with the judicial process, particularly the Court, should conduct a review into the deprivation of liberty of Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun and to immediately have her released from custody.
2. The Thai government shall refrain from and shall not acquiesce to the deportation of Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, the act of which shall make her vulnerable to persecution in her country of origin. And she should be allowed to travel on to Australia as wished.
With respect in human rights and human dignity
Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)