February 25, 2020, Washington
Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al-Marri emphasized that the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) continues to urge the Qatari government to pursue the path of reform to protect and defend the rights of both citizens and residents of the State of Qatar.
During a reception organized at US-Qatar Business Council, the President of the NHRC emphasized that, “protection of the rights of citizens and residents in Qatar is a central pillar in the work of the National Committee which has not stopped demanding more reforms from the Qatari government.”
Recognition of the European union and parliament and international organizations
With regard to recent reforms made by the Qatari government to protect the rights of expatriates, Al Marri said that the International Labour Organization has welcomed the reforms adopted by Qatar to protect the rights of expatriate workers. Many human rights organizations have also encouraged the Qatari government to purse the reforms approach, pointing out that the NHRC, on its part, welcomed the reforms and new legislation, and it continues to urge the government through its various reports and recommendations to pursue the approach of reforms.
As for the rights of labour working in the 2022 Qatar World Cup facilities, Dr. Al-Marri said, “You have certainly seen the reports of many human rights organizations that value the measures taken by the Qatari authorities to provide a safe working environment for these workers. The NHRC has always called for improving housing and work conditions, because it is firmly convinced that the rights of workers and the reforms that preserve their dignity must be permanent and lasting even after the World Cup. Moreover, After the blockade, the NHRC faced other challenges in its work relating to Qataris and residents.”
Al-Marri referred to the recent visits by delegations from the European Parliament and European Union headed by EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr. Eamon Gilmore, to a number of World Cup facilities, and his meetings with workers and officials from various stakeholders in the State of Qatar, such as Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, the NHRC and the International Labour Organization. Gilmore expressed appreciation for the efforts made by Qatar to introduce new improvements and legislation that abolish the sponsorship law and protect the rights of expatriate workers, and he praised progress and improvement in the conditions of work and workers in Qatar.
Welcoming visits by international organizations
Dr. Al-Marri pointed out that the NHRC coordinates with the European Union, the European Parliament, the United Nations and international organizations on all levels that related to human rights in the State of Qatar, and there is an ongoing discussions between the NHRC and the Qatari government and international bodies.
Al-Marri also noted that the NHRC has always welcomed all visits to Doha by international organizations, pointing out that the State of Qatar is one of the few countries that extended an open invitation to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs to visit Qatar. It has repeatedly welcomed all international organizations to visit Doha to learn about the human rights conditions, including meeting with representatives of the blockade victims and listening to their suffering they have been subjected to for almost three years.
New Challenges Imposed by the Blockade
During his discussions with the attendees, Dr. Al-Marri presented an overview of the repercussions of the blockade that has been going on for 1,000 days, noting that the repercussions resulting from continued human suffering of thousands of citizens and residents, not only in Qatar, but in all the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Al Marri highlighted the need to raise awareness among American society and all other societies about the seriousness of the punitive measures taken by the blockading States, stressing that there is no selectivity when it comes to human rights, nor any calculations, and that violations are stateless. He added that victims are the responsibility of the international community.
Regarding the new challenges facing the NHRC as a result of the blockade of Qatar, Dr. Al-Marri said, “The blockade imposed on us new challenges. The NHRC has received multiple complaints from citizens and residents affected by the grave violations imposed by the blockading States. However, this will not force us to forget the NHRC’s fundamental role in defending human rights as a whole, including protecting the rights of Qatari citizens and residents, as well as rights of expatriate workers in Qatar.”