Rights groups ask Qatar to disclose whereabouts of migrant rights commentator

DUBAI (Reuters) -A group of rights groups including Amnesty International asked Qatar on Thursday to disclose the whereabouts of a Kenyan man who has written about migrant rights in the Gulf state and who was detained last week.

They said Malcolm Bidali, who had been writing under a pseudonym, was taken from his accommodation on the night of May 4 for questioning by the state security service and that officials had not disclosed to them where he is being held.

"Malcolm is a security guard, blogger and activist, who has been vocal about the plight of migrant workers like himself and has written for a number of online platforms," a joint statement from, FairSquare, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre said.

"A week before his arrest, Malcolm gave a presentation to a large group of civil society organizations and trade unions about his experience of working in Qatar."

Qatar's human rights record has been in the spotlight as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, especially over migrants' living and working conditions. Doha has introduced labour reforms that aimed to address some concerns.

A Qatari government official through the government's communications office (GCO) said a Kenyan national was taken into custody on May 5 and placed under investigation for violating Qatar's security laws and regulations.

"The individual retains all his rights under the law. All procedures of the investigation are being carried out in accordance with Qatari law," said the official, who declined to be named.

The joint statement said: "We are extremely concerned for his well-being, and that he may have been detained in reprisal for his legitimate human rights work. If Malcolm is detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, he must be released immediately and unconditionally,"

(Writing by Lisa BarringtonEditing by Frances Kerry)