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Qatar makes legislative reforms to strengthen and promote human rights

08 July 2019

Qatar has confirmed that it has made major legislative reforms in recent years, pointing out to the widespread developments made in the legislative, institutional policy and strategy levels, towards strengthening and promoting human rights infrastructure.

This statement was made by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H E Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi before the 73rd session of the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women for the dialogue on the second periodic report of the State of Qatar, under article (18) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

He noted that the forum discussed and analyzed the developments made by Qatar since its accession to the Convention a decade ago, and the priorities for the next phase. Several recommendations were given during the forum, including working to strengthen national mechanisms dealing with women’s issues, and the efforts by the State to review and amend laws to conform with the provisions of the conventions.

human rights reforms in Qatar

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs mentioned that the report presented to the Committee was the result of a consultative dialogue and cooperation in the field of monitoring and implementation of the Convention, among all women’s stakeholders in the State. The report was sent to the National Human Rights Committee for its observations, he noted.

The Minister emphasized that the State of Qatar was keen to include in the present report all the developments pertaining to the Convention that has taken place in Qatar since 2014, indicating that the report in its first part shows information and data related to the composition and some social and economic factors that confirm that the State of Qatar has already met most of its development goals.

He further said that this part described the political, constitutional and legal structure of the State, the general framework for protection and promotion of human rights, and the State’s position on reservations and declaration, the fundamental context for implementation of the provision and articles of Convention.

According to HE Sultain bin Saad Al Muraikhi, the second part of the report explains the measures adopted by Qatar to apply the provisions of the Convention, and the last part addressed the future challenges and orientations.

The State of Qatar has accepted the simplified reporting mechanism to present the reports to the Committee, aiming to strengthen the capacity of the State parties to the Convention to meet their obligations on time and in an effective manner.

In line with this, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Qatar, appreciated the participation of civil society organizations in the State of Qatar, represented by the National Human Rights Committee, Qatar Foundation for Social Work, and Doha International Family Institute.

Lately, Qatar has adopted a strategic approach towards general reservations and declarations to human rights conventions, aiming to review them and harmonize national legislation accordingly, as was te case with Convention against Torture, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child pornography, Al Muraikhi said.
He pointed out that the Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in his speech during the 73rd UN General Assembly session had emphasized that human development and protection and promotion of human rights comes as the topmost priority for the State of Qatar.

Major Reforms

Among the major legislative reforms that Qatar made in the recent years, was the amendment of legal framework regulating the rights of expat workers, who played a major role in development and progress of the State, he added.

The Minister further said that a Qatari woman was appointed for the first time as an official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Qatar has also continued its efforts to promote and protect the rights of the child, rights of people with disabilities, rights to health and education, including a national campaign on right to education organized last year, as part of UNESCO's campaign to promote right to education.

The Minister also pointed out that Qatar supported the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls and pledged to provide quality education to one million girls by 2021 during the participation of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at a roundtable held in September 2018.

Al Muraikhi also pointed out that since June 2017, Qatar has been subjected to an unjust blockade and to unilateral coercive measures imposed by the four neighbouring states on the basis of false pretexts, and unilateral measures, including imposition of air, land and sea blockade, severance of diplomatic and commercial ties, and imposing restrictions and measures against Qatari nationals and residents in violation to the standards contained in the international human rights treaties.

These measures have resulted in serious violations of human rights, including freedom of movement, freedom of residence, freedom of property ownership, right to work, right to education, and right to freedom of opinion and expression, apart from right to health, right to freedom of religious observance, and other social violations, which has resulted in families being divided, leaving a negative impact on women and children too.

Following this unjust blockade, the Compensation Claims Committee was formed in Qatar, which acts as a Central Committee to receive complaints related to blockade, and decide how best to handle them.

The Minister mentioned that Qatar has however, worked to protect and promote human rights and to ensure that the rights of its nationals and residents, including those of blockading States' nationals, are not infringed.

In order to preserve its rights, the State has turned into international mechanisms to ensure that the blockading States are held responsible for human rights infringements. For this, Qatar has presented a case against the UAE before the international Court of Justice regarding elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.

On 23rd July 2018, the Court issued its ruling about interim measures, ordering reunion of Qatari families that were separated due to the measures taken by the UAE.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries.

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