KATHMANDU, SEP 06 – The British government and Amnesty International have expressed their concerns over the “disappearance” of ethnic Nepali human rights defenders Krishna Upadhyaya and Gundev Ghimire, who have gone missing since Sunday in Doha, Qatar.
Born in Nepal, both Upadhyaya and Ghimire are British citizens working for the Norway-based Global Network for Rights and Development. The GNRD had hired them to investigate conditions of migrant workers at construction facilities for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup.
On Friday, relatives of the two missing joined the protest with human rights activists staged by Anti Slavery International outside the Qatari Embassy in London.
Upadhyaya is also a former staffer with the anti-slavery organisation. The Nepal government, expressing concerns over their status on humanitarian ground and for their being ethnic Nepalis, has urged its mission in Doha to make all possible efforts to locate them.
According to the BBC, the UK Foreign Office is looking into reports that two British men in Qatar who were investigating the treatment of migrant workers have gone missing.
A UK Foreign Office spokesman told the BBC: “We are aware of the reports of two British nationals missing in Qatar and we are looking into them.”
Despite repeated attempts from phone and email, the Qatari Embassy in Kathmandu was unavailable for comments.
The Amnesty International has written to the UK Minister of the Interior, the Director of the Human Rights Bureau and the ambassador in London in connection with the disappearances.
In a statement, the global rights watchdog has urged the Qatari authorities to publicly clarify the whereabouts of Upadhyaya and Ghimire and ensure that both men have access to their families and employer, lawyers of their choice, any medical attention they may require, and diplomatic representation.
It has also called on Qatar to release the two if they are not to be charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence and brought to trial promptly in proceedings fully meeting international fair trial standards.
Upadhyaya and Ghimire are believed to have been detained by Qatari authorities and may be at risk of torture and ill-treatment, claimed AI.
Both had arrived in Qatar on August 27 for work focused on the conditions of Nepali workers. Qatar has been criticised for poor working conditions of its labourers at its World Cup sites. There are an estimated 450,000 Nepalis in the tiny kingdom. Though they have abandoned their Nepali citizenship, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday instructed its Doha mission to extend all possible help to the families of Upadhyaya and Ghimire. A senior official said diplomatically it is difficult for Nepal to take up the matter but for the Nepalis by origin, Nepali officials in Doha would extend possible help.
Upadhyaya and Ghimire were supposed to depart from Qatar on August 31 but never boarded the plane. The last message was received by a colleague, saying they were being followed by plainclothesmen, which gave the GNRD a lead to suspect their possible abduction and disappearance.