QATAR: Poet’s life sentence reduced

RAN 72/12 Update #2 27 February 2013

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International continues to protest the detention of poet Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, whose life sentence for a critical poem was reduced to fifteen years on 25 February 2013. A final ruling by the Supreme Court is expected within 30 days. PEN International considers Al-Ajami to be convicted in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

According to PEN’s information, Al-Ajami was sentenced to life imprisonment on 29 November 2012 on charges of “inciting the overthrow of the ruling regime” and “criticising the ruler” in a poem. The charges stem from a poem entitled Tunisian Jasmine which he wrote in January 2011, during the wave of protests throughout the Arab world that began in December 2010. He was arrested on 16 November 2011, after responding to summons, and was detained incommunicado for several months. His trial, which did not meet international standards of fairness, was repeatedly postponed. Al-Ajami is detained in Doha’s Central Prison, where he has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest.

For more background please see our previous action:

Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami is an Honorary Member of German PEN Centre.


Please send appeals immediately:

• Protesting the continued detention of poet Mohammed al-Ajami, solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression;
• Urging the authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and to immediately and unconditionally release poet Al-Ajami.

Send appeals to:

Amir of the State of Qatar
Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
PO Box 923
Doha, State of Qatar
Fax: + 974 4436 1212
Salutation: Your Highness

Minister of the Interior
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalid Al Thani
Ministry of the Interior
PO Box 920
Doha, State of Qatar
Fax: + 974 4444 4945 (keep trying)
Salutation: His Excellency

And copies to:
Attorney General
Dr Ali bin Fetais Al Marri
PO Box 705
Doha, State of Qatar
Fax: +974 4484 3211

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Qatar in your country if possible.

***Please send appeals before 25 March 2013***

For further information please contact Ghias Aljundi at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: