The NHRC called on the OHCHR, the Human Rights Council and the Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief to take immediate action to remove Saudi impediments to pilgrims of the State of Qatar
The NHRC is studying legal procedures to bring the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to justice internationally
Dr. Al-Marri: KSA is responsible for the missing the second season of pilgrimage for the pilgrims of Qatar and we are working to hold KSA accountable in international forums
The Saudi authorities have taken no steps to enable the pilgrims of Qatar to exercise their right to perform their religious rites
We call on the international community to take the necessary measures against the responsible authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The response of the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations in Geneva does not break any new ground
The need to consider the situation of pilgrims from vulnerable groups (the elderly, persons with disabilities and low-income people)
Qatari Ministry of endowment has addressed the Saudi authorities through the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman under the guidance of the Ministry of Hajj and has not yet received a reply
Doha, July 2, 2018
Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al-Marri, Chairman of the NHRC, addressed three UN bodies, represented by Mr. Fujislav Sok, President of the Human Rights Council, Prince Zeid Bin Raad, High Commissioner for Human Rights and Mr. Ahmed Shahid, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; with the aim to raise the concern of the National Human Rights Committee about the continued obstacles imposed by the Saudi authorities to enable Qataris and residents of Qatar to exercise their right to perform their religious rites and to demand immediate action against the Saudi authorities; pointing out that the NHRC in Qatar is studying all legal procedures to prosecute Saudi Arabia for flagrant violations of the right to practice religious rites as well as the politicization of Hajj and Umrah and its ramifications in raising obstacles to the pilgrims of Qatar; stressing that the Saudi authorities practice misleading actions in order to mislead the international community and avoid international condemnation. Al Marri said that the authorities in the Kingdom cannot deceive the international organizations and the international community, they held the responsibility for missing the second season of pilgrimage and the NHRC will spare no effort to held it countable in all international forums; pointing out at the same time that the major international organizations including the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Council condemned in their reports and statements Saudi practices and blatant violations of the right to practice religious rites.
The correspondences addressing the three UN bodies indicated that the obstacles deliberately imposed by the Saudi authorities on those who wish to perform the rituals of Hajj from Qatari citizens and residents in the State of Qatar constitute a serious violation of the right to worship and to practice the religious rituals stipulated in the international and regional human rights conventions. At the same time, the National Human Rights Committee confirmed that the ban on direct flights from the State of Qatar to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persists, in addition to the closure of the border land crossing between the two countries, and the prohibition of remittances by the authorities in Saudi Arabia between the Qatari campaigns and the Saudi Hajj agents who are authorized to grant the necessary permits and preventing the circulation of the Qatari currency in Saudi Arabia, which causes huge financial losses due to the arbitrary measures referred to.
The response of the Permanent Delegation of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations in Geneva reiterates the same conditions that were previously announced, which were vague and unclear and did not break any new ground in terms of removing the obstacles and difficulties facing pilgrims, and did not address the concerns raised in the reports of the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar relating to the damage and financial losses incurred by the Qatari Hajj campaigns.
The NHRC said in its correspondence: We consider prolongation of the issue of Hajj and procrastination of the Saudi authorities is an attempt by the authorities in Saudi Arabia to suspend any action that could be taken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or special procedures, and stressed the need to take necessary action with regard to the need for coordination between the Saudi authorities and the Ministry of endowment and Islamic Affairs of Qatar to reach to clear and specific mechanisms to facilitate Hajj and Umrah procedures for Qataris and residents in Qatar, opening the electronic registration portal for pilgrims from the State of Qatar, and granting them visas through the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in Doha, opening the land border crossing between the two countries, taking into account humanitarian cases, and low-income individuals, opening direct flights back and forth between the State of Qatar to Saudi Arabia for those wishing to perform Hajj and Umrah rituals, and allowing the flow of remittances between campaigns, Hajj and Umrah service providers in Qatar, Hajj and Umrah agents in Saudi Arabia, and permitting the Qatari currency to float freely in Saudi Arabia.
The delegation of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Qatar visited Saudi Arabia and met with the competent authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to discuss the removal of the obstacles and difficulties faced by Qatari pilgrims and residents in the State of Qatar and address the need to take into account the situation of the most vulnerable groups especially the elderly, persons with disabilities and low-income individuals. The NHRC stated that the Qatari delegation did not find any solutions to the obstacles imposed by the concerned Saudi authorities, which responded only to the Qatari delegation that the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Qatar should direct official correspondence with its demands through the embassy of Sultanate of Oman.
The letters pointed out that the State of Qatar represented by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has responded to the request of the competent authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and extended the communications in a timely manner which have not been answered so far; pointing out that although the pilgrimage season on Dhu al-Hijjah 20, corresponding to August 20, 2018. According to what is known, pilgrims should proceed with the arrangements of Hajj so that they can perform their religious rituals in a timely manner. However, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Qatar confirmed in a statement dated on June 6 that ” the Saudi authorities continue to put obstacles and impose arbitrary measures exclusively on the residents of the State of Qatar, and that the registration for Umrah and pilgrimage remains closed, and the direction from the city of Doha to the city of Jeddah also is not available.”