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Monday, May 10, 2021

UN member states pile pressure on Qatar to reform

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United Nations in Geneva

With reporting from Nada Badawi

Nearly three dozen countries leveled criticism at Qatar this morning during the 19th session of a human rights review session in at the United Nations office in Geneva.

Member states urged the Gulf country to abolish its kafala system, do more to protect domestic workers, combat gender inequality and uphold freedom of expression in the face of new possible media and cyber crime laws.

Qatar was represented at the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group by Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani, assistant to the Foreign Minister, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

The country has been in the international spotlight for nearly three years, since it was awarded hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup.

In response to questions about Qatar’s reluctance to allow expats to unionize, one official said the demographics of the nation need to be considered. Some 90 percent of the country is comprised of foreigners.

Officials also fielded questions about:

  • Why Qatari women who are married to expats cannot pass their citizenship on to their children or husbands;
  • Freedom of online expression (which officials said the country approves of, unless ethical boundaries are crossed); and
  • The lack of a law to criminalize domestic violence (which has long been in the works.)

Notably, even close allies such as the US and UK weighed in during the session, with the US urging the release of Mohamad Al-Ajami, a Qatari poet jailed for 15 years after being found guilty of insulting the former Emir.

Qatar officials responded by saying proper procedures were following during Al Ajami’s trial, despite his lawyer’s comments to the contrary.

The full discussion of today’s session is not online yet, but here’s what happened according to tweets:

The Qatar report is expected to be passed on Friday. And acccording to the United Nations Office at Geneva’s website, the final outcome of today’s session will be adopted in September.

Recommendations made by member states are non-binding, though Qatari officials did say they would take them into account. Promises that kafala will be changed “soon” have been looming for years, and resurfaced recently.

Speaking to the Associated Press today, a Qatari delegate said: “We will come, I think, very soon within the current month with an overall work program.”

UPDATE: Here’s the full report on Qatar:

Thoughts?

39 COMMENTS

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Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

@Shabina921:disqus Hi! Do you know where I can get extra information on this? Thanks 🙂

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago

I am still holding my breath from the last story on Doha News that said “Qatar holds breath as official says kafala changes coming ‘soon’”.

Guest
Guest
7 years ago

I hope this World Cup 2022 proves to be a blessing in a disguise for Migrant Workers. Instead of putting efforts towards having a good relationship with the customers; the supposedly new laws will force employers to have some good relationships with the employees as well.

Guest
Guest
7 years ago

I hope this World Cup 2022 proves to be a blessing in a disguise for Migrant Workers. Instead of putting ALL efforts towards having a good relationship with the customers; the supposedly new laws will force employers to have some good relationships with the employees as well.

hohum
hohum
7 years ago

I have experienced first hand the human rights abuses that occur in Qatar.

Having been falsely accused of raping a student, I have experienced the jail system, travel bans, drawn out courts and feared that I would be wrongly convicted of such a crime.

I was eventually found innocent and had the full support of my school. I was still deported and effectively had to leave my job.

Explaining why I left Qatar to potential employers is always a fun experience.

I decided to lodge a civil case against the guardian of my accuser who failed to take his daughter to the doctor when she developed a facial rash but was concerned enough to take a photo of it. He neglected to take her to the doctor over the following threes weeks but was able to organise a 4 hour talk between her and her Aunty in which the false accusation was created.

Now having heard the verdict from the 2.5 year case I am left feeling that providing justice to all is not a priority in Qatar.

The judge’s response to my defamation claim is put simply, the father had the right to complain, but my innocence does not give me the right to compensation. I can only hope the appeals court can fix this injustice.

Still waiting for justice.

johnny wang
johnny wang
7 years ago

………….What a disgrace that while all this countries and even Nepal took a stand….countries like India behaved like a banana republic and played dumb and deaf to the welfare of its own citizens…( countries like India, which send a lot of manpower to Qatar, did not voice concerns or even raise a finger about the treatment of its residents)….India as spineless and blind like its leaders and as is to be expected

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Indian politicians and business men are making too much money out of the misery of their fellow countrymen to care about their treatment and endanger their revenue streams.

Bright Thomas
Bright Thomas
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Nailed it!

PlanetCitizen
PlanetCitizen
7 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Yes it is very shameful to see the Indian government has failed to protects its own citizen from such abuses. The embassy need to have programs and tools at its disposal to protect such workers. A lot of Indian citizens die each year and I was surprised to see the Indian embassy indicating the human rights group as taking the report out of context….maybe to get their hands on Qatar’s gas I say.

taurz
taurz
7 years ago
Reply to  PlanetCitizen

The Indian Embassy can not provide a decent toilet to its citizens waiting in never ending queues in the embassy, and your talking about protecting its citizens from abuses…. the whole Indian embassy setup here is a big joke…!!!! >:(

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  taurz

I think they are just recreating the conditions from home for them….

taurz
taurz
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

The conditions at home are nothing like this. The passport customer services centers in each city are very very well managed, with proper queuing system, proper facilities, with customers, informed well in advance for their appointment time, so that, there is no unwanted rush or delay. Only here, its pathetic…!!!!

KK
KK
7 years ago

One issue which is of paramounting importance to Qatari’s is : prestige. Drawing critism from three dozen of countries in public does hurt. No doubt about it.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

“UN member states pile pressure on Qatar to reform”. I find this headline to be misleading. A better head line would’ve been one “UN member states” is replaced with “UN Human Rights Council,” or even just adding “some” before “member states.”

Also, Greece isn’t currently a member of the UN HRC, so why are they even asking about Qatari women and what not? This is pretty much how it is in every Arab country, so why single out Qatar unless you have an agenda or something.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Semantics my man semantics, the headline did not say ‘All Un Member states’ it just said ‘Member states’ and really, so what, address the issue at hand don’t get defensive, it does you no good. Facts are facts, it is time for change and time to address what the world sees as an unacceptable situation… Domestic violence is unacceptable..any abuse of workers is unacceptable…please start to see this instead of thinking that the world is picking on Qatar…think of the abused..think of how you as a citizen , not just a powerless resident can help change the plight of the abused for the better.

Guest
Guest
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Ok. lets change the law.. NOC for those who are working in qatar for last 25 years and Exit Permit for those who pay 100000 QAR …

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Bashar is bombing his citizens in Syria .. and Greece is giving Qatar advises on Human Rights. But that’s okay because Syria isn’t hosting THEIR World Cup.

Moleskine
Moleskine
7 years ago

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.

During the first cycle, all UN Member States have been reviewed, – with 48 States reviewed each year.

The second cycle, which officially started in May 2012 with the 13th session of the UPR Working Group, will see 42 States reviewed each year. The reviews take place during the sessions of the UPR Working Group which meets three times a year.

The order of review remains the same as in the first cycle and the number of States reviewed at each session is now 14 instead of 16.

So every state is reviewed in exactly the same order every review cycle. Every state has been reviewed in the first cycle and now we are on to the second. So any timings have no relevance to world cup considerations.

Moleskine
Moleskine
7 years ago

Breaking News: Qatar Loses 2022 World Cup to Norway.

Following your logic this must be the case from this news item from last week, They’re only attacking Norway because they are hosting the World Cup:

‘Saudi Arabia has criticised Norway’s human rights record, accusing the country of failing to protect its Muslim citizens and not doing enough to counter criticism of the prophet Mohammed.

The Scandinavian nation came under scrutiny during the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review, in which 14 States are scheduled to have their human rights records examined.

Russia meanwhile called for Norway to clamp down on expressions of religious intolerance and and criticised the country’s child welfare system. They also recommended that Norway improve its correctional facilities for those applying for asylum status.’

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/saudi-arabia-criticises-norway-over-human-rights-record-9301796.html

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
7 years ago
Reply to  Moleskine

“The country has been in the international spotlight for nearly three years, since it was awarded hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup.”

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

Since they bought the WC you mean.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Moleskine

I find Saudi Arabia’s stance very disturbing, why do they expect Norway to do anything to counter critism of Prophet Mohd. That is likes Brazil claiming France is not doing enough to protect critism of Pele.

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Funny how you don’t see this when it’s the other way around.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

I am sure that Norway would just laugh if Saudi Citizens mocked Thor or Odin, their Gods obviously have thicker skin and they wouldn’t need the Norwegian government to complain on their behalf.

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Of course they will, they know they’re just BS.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

Same, same

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago

Here is one of the fundamental problems if I understand you correctly. You expect others to respect your god whereas you are not willing to respect what some others may consider theirs, be it the sun, moon or stars. (Thor in this case). I challenge you to prove that Thor does not exist. My apologies in advance if I misunderstood what you were saying in your post.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

Yes that is exactly it, they expect tolerance from others for their beliefs and seem to be in a constant state of being offended but when it comes to others beliefs they are dismissive and rude. They put their wants and needs above all others and unfortunately some are prepare to kill for their beliefs.

Saffa
Saffa
7 years ago
Reply to  Moleskine

Don’t you love it! Saudi, one of the most repressive countries in the world, telling off Norway, one of the most tolerant countries in the world.
Pot, meet kettle….

Doc
Doc
7 years ago
Reply to  Moleskine

How about Saudi giving their christian residents a place to worship 1st. The most barbaric, awful and out of touch regime in the world.

Moleskine
Moleskine
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe.

The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group which consists of the 47 members of the Council; however any UN Member State can take part in the discussion/dialogue with the reviewed States.

Qatar is in the second cycle of countries to be reviewed, so no one is singling out Qatar…in fact the time spent was just 3 and a half hours on the 7th May between 9am and 12.30pm.

http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/upr/pages/BasicFacts.aspx

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Your point about “all Arab countries” is a weak one. Battles can’t be fought on all fronts. And the fact that something also happens elsewhere in no way minimizes that thing. Qatar has been making a big effort to get into the spotlight and these things are now the consequence.

snoogles
snoogles
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I think they did not mention other Arab states in terms of women’s rights is due to the fact that they were addressing Qatar’s issues not the Arab world. Other Arab nations also have domestic and migrant worker violations, lack of freedom of speech, etc however they only focused on Qatar.
Also, just because other Arab nations do not treat their women equally does not mean we should not. They are not exactly the best nations to emulate.
I do not care who (Greece) poses the question as long as it has value and pushes us towards internal improvement.

Chilidog
Chilidog
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Since we’re discussing headlines, how about this gem in Gulf News today “covering” the same story: “Qatar’s efforts to promote human rights earn praise”

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

Every headline in the Gulf Times makes you want to puke.

100 Indians die in building collapse. Next day headline in Gulf Times.

“Citizens praise government for reducing Qatar’s reliance on foreign workers’

Scarletti
Scarletti
7 years ago

Qatar – the eyes of the world are upon you, it is a condition which the state has brought upon itself, and only the state has the power to address. However, the systems and procedures that exist simply do not have a place in the modern world, irrespective of culture or faith – human rights are ‘a human right’.

So there is one simple answer – exceed expectations, dont simply change and be seen to have been exposed and pressured into reluctant moderation – embrace change, us it to set an example, and make Qatar a better place – FOR EVERYONE – then we dont have to endure this constant sniping and criticism which undermines all the country’s aspirations and plans for the future

K Abdulghani
K Abdulghani
7 years ago

Remove obligation of permission to change job? It’s not just Qatar having this regulation. Many countries do have some kind of restrictions to their work permit system. This is something Qatar does not have to follow.

Truth-Seeker
Truth-Seeker
7 years ago

A question: is lobbying permitted to modify the tune of those reports?

disqus_21uQ1hXhE0
disqus_21uQ1hXhE0
7 years ago

How heartening to see the Philippines, Nepal and Indonesia standing up for their citizens, at least symbolically.

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