The countries of the blockade exercise disinformation, their claims to form committees to stop violations and allow the prosecution prove to be unfounded
The Saudi obstacles to Hajj and Umrah will be raised in the agendas of the human rights mechanisms and bodies
we call on the inclusion of the issue of the blockade in the annual report of the European Parliament on the human rights situation
we call on the inclusion of the “politicization of religious rites” in the United Nations human rights system until Saudi Arabia stops the violations
we invite the EU envoy to visit Qatar and the countries of the blockade
the countries of the blockade- contrary to what they claim – did not take any action to stop violations
The blockading countries mislead international public opinion
Victims demand justice, determination of responsibilities and accountability of those involved
Brussels: 28 April 2018
Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Chairman of the NHRC in the State of Qatar, called on the European Parliament to adopt urgent and effective mechanisms and procedures to end the suffering of those affected by the blockade imposed on Qatar, such as issuing a recommendation on the serious repercussions of the blockade on human rights, dispatching a parliamentary committee to investigate the negative effects of the crisis, and including the issue of the repercussions of the blockade in the annual report of the European Parliament on the human rights situation, hoping that the violations resulting from the blockade of Qatar are considered as a priority in the discussions at the European Parliament in the coming period.
At a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels, Dr. Ali Ben Smaikh, the European Union invited the envoy to visit Qatar and the countries of the blockade to come close to the human rights violations committed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain, stressing that “after nearly a year of the blockade, the victims no longer trust the statements of condemnation, demand concrete and effective measures to redress them, and to identify responsibilities and accountability of those involved in the violations, noting that contrary to the claims of the blockading countries, they have not taken any action to stop its violations, and continue to practice political misinformation.
Al-Marri presents the results of the achievements of the NHRC
Dr. Ali Bin Smaikh Al Marri started his intervention at the hearing by presenting a brief about the establishment of the NHRC and the achievements it has made over 16 years in the course of human rights inside and outside the State of Qatar, as well as the international partnerships that the NHRC has achieved, in particular with OHCHR and the most prominent international organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to the international support of the Office of National Institutions of the OHCHR and the GANHRI, and APF. Al Marri also gave an overview of the human rights situation in Qatar and the contributions of the NHRC to the reforms undertaken by the Qatari Government to promote the rights of workers. In response to questions from members of the European Parliament, Dr. Ali Bin Smaikh presented the most important challenges, opportunities and developments related to the rights of women and workers, freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the agreements signed with several international human rights organizations and Qatar’s accession to international human rights conventions.
What’s next after 1 year under the blockade!
The President of the NHRC talked about the blockade crisis imposed on Qatar since 5 June and its repercussions on human rights, and gave a brief explanation, supported by statistics and figures, about the violations of the rights of citizens and residents of the State of Qatar and the blockading countries themselves, to the actions taken by the NHRC to expose these violations and their success in gaining the confidence and support of the international community and international human rights organizations, Parliamentary and human rights organizations. In this regard, Al Marri referred to the visit of the delegation of the technical mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and its comprehensive report on the violations of the blockade, the statements and appeals of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the statement of 220 international organizations and trade unions during The Conference on Freedom of Expression condemning in the strongest terms the 13 demands of the countries of the blockade, including the closure of Al-Jazeera and all the media belonging to Qatar, and finally the letters addressed by six special rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council to the Governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to call for immediate action to stop discriminatory and arbitrary measures, and to prosecute those responsible for violations.
Mechanisms of the blockading countries to address the violations are vague and ineffective
The President of the NHRC was keen to draw the attention of the European Parliamentarians, and the European and international governments, to the continuation of the blockading countries in their violations, expressing the shock at the false claims announced by the countries of the blockade that they had taken action to address the violations monitored by the six Special Rapporteurs in the individual letters addressed to the three Governments including opening hotlines to receive complaints and appeals, and granted the right of litigation to those affected by violations, and allowed them to exercise their rights in full, including the right to practice religious rites for citizens and residents of the State of Qatar!
“It has become clear that hotlines are useless, with the testimony of the OHCHR, and have become a mechanism for the authorities to monitor their citizens and punish those who dare to complain, while the delusional committees they talk about are not transparent,” Al Marri said. Noting that, the countries of the blockade have not provided to the United Nations any evidence of the cases they have dealt with. They also argue that victims can resort to the local jurisdiction of the blockading countries and that lawyers can lodge complaints with them, whereas since the beginning of the crisis, the right to litigation has been violated and the doors of the courts in these countries are completely closed to victims and their lawyers. We have been in contact with many lawyers in the countries of the blockade, and they have assured us that they cannot file any suits in this regard because of the indirect prohibition practiced by those countries to reach the judiciary, in addition to the law criminalizing the sympathy with Qatar and its people.
Raising the issue of “Hajj and Umrah” in the United Nations system until relevant obstacles are eliminated
In response to a question on the extent of the commitment of the blockading countries to lift the restrictions on the right to practice religious rites for citizens and residents in Qatar, the President of the National Human Rights Committee said: “About a year ago the blockade, the two holy mosques are closed to pilgrims from Qatar! That the pilgrimage campaigns incurred heavy losses, resulting in the forced dismissal of workers.” Al Marri added: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to cover up the international community and make baseless allegations in response to the letter of the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteurs who claim to allow Qataris to perform Hajj and Umrah and to take measures to address the grievances of those affected. In the same context, Dr. Ali Bin Smaikh stated that “The NHRC intends to invite the Special Rapporteur to freedom of belief to issue an urgent appeal to the Saudi authorities for continuing to violate the right to practice religious rites and to invite him to visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia to discuss the extent of suffering and politicization of religious rites, Obstacles to their right to Hajj and Umrah without restrictions. We also invite the Special Rapporteur on freedom of belief to include in his annual report to the Human Rights Council the issue, we consider this as a very important step, and we assure you that as long as the Kingdom’s authorities continue to politicize rites and put obstacles and difficulties for pilgrims from Qatar, the violations shall be raised before the United Nations system of human rights.”
Saudi Arabia must be aware of the danger of politicizing religious rites and its image in the Muslim world
Dr. Ali Ben Smaikh stated before the European Parliamentarians: “I assure you that the NHRC in Qatar will spare no effort until the obstacles for the citizens and residents of Qatar are lifted and the right to practice religious rites are regained, especially after the failure of all attempts at dialogue which was between the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs in the State of Qatar and Saudi Arabia counterpart. Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al-Marri stressed the continuation of the National Human Rights Committee in Qatar to contact several organizations in the countries of the blockade to find a way out of the crisis to no avail, pointing out in this regard to “Saudi Arabia and the UAE Human Rights Society which received all cases from the NHRC with no response.
Recommendations to the European Parliament
The President of the NHRC concluded by presenting a number of recommendations to the members of the European Parliament, and called on the Parliamentary Subcommittee to take a position on the violations by including the repercussions of the blockade in the annual report of the European Parliament on the human rights situation. He also called on the Sub-Committee on Human Rights to visit the State of Qatar to learn more about the repercussions of the blockade, in parallel with a similar call to the European Union’s human rights envoy.
Fruitful discussions of members of the European Parliament
The hearing by Antonio Panzieri, chairman of the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the European Parliament, amidst a remarkable presence of the European Parliamentarians, witnessed hot debates. The deputies raised a number of questions that focused on the human rights situation in Qatar and the efforts exerted by the committee to develop the rights of workers, women and people with disabilities, to the repercussions of the blockade imposed on Qatar and the efforts of the National Human Rights Committee to stop the violations caused by the blockade. In response to questions from members of the European Parliament, Dr. Ali Bin Smaikh briefed the most important challenges, opportunities and developments related to the rights of women and workers, freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the agreements signed with several international human rights organizations and Qatar’s accession to international human rights conventions.
The Commission on Human Rights wins the confidence of the European Parliament
The European Parliament’s invitation to the President of the National Human Rights Committee to a public hearing reflects the Parliament’s understanding of the extent of the suffering of the victims as a result of the unjust blockade. It also reflects the success of the NHRC in convincing international public opinion of the credibility of its reports that monitored the violations since the first day of the blockade, beginning with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United States Congress, the European, British and French Parliament and major international human rights organizations.