DOHA: NHRC: 22/11/2010”: In the context of a comprehensive wide-ranging interview, he granted "al-Sharq’ Arabic news of Qatar, and summed up in English by "The Peninsula", H.E. NHRC Chairman, Dr. Ali Bin Smaikh al-Marry said that NHRC has called for shifting of the existing deportation centres to a new location saying the present detention facilities are in a bad state.
The Committee said its officials could not make impromptu visits to reformatory and detention facilities without prior notice earlier, but now they are free to pay surprise visits to such places.
“We have demanded that the deportation centres (where low-income expatriate workers are lodged to be repatriated home) be shifted since they are in a bad condition,” Dr Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri told al-Sharq
He said that although primary education is compulsory and free in the country there were many children who do not have passports or necessary documents so they could not be admitted to schools.
“These children are in school-going age groups but they could not attend schools due to lack of passport or necessary documents,” he said. It is the basic right of every child—whether Qatari or expatriate—to have access to primary education.
“We have helped these children attend schools. It has taken some effort but the children are in school now,” he said.
“Since primary education is free here, I am quite surprised to hear that charitable bodies spend millions of riyals a year to finance basic education of children from needy families,” Al Marri told Al Sharq in an interview.
About journalists being treated like criminals in defamation cases, he said the NHRC wants the new press law (for both electronic and print media) to be expedited and enforced.
“We have strongly recommended that scribes should not be grilled like criminals in defamation cases or cases involving objectionable writings,” he said.
About the children of Qatari women married to non-Qatari men, he said the NHRC has made recommendations to the authorities concerned that the citizenship law of 1989 is amended and these children be provided Qatari passports.
The NHRC, according to Al Marri, has received many complaints from citizens about public health services and about seriously ailing people not being sent overseas for treatment at state expense.
He have also received complaints about some serious errors having been made in medical treatment,” he said adding that the problems were being looked into.
Al Marri blamed the local media for creating the impression as though the NHRC had been set up only to raise the issues that are pertinent to expatriates.
“The impression is false. We give due importance to local issues like housing, education, health and other basic rights of people,” he said.
The problem, however, is that since the Qatari population is small (300,000) as compared to expatriates who are in large numbers, whenever there are press briefings, journalists divert local issues and keep posing questions about sponsorship and exit permit rules.
They, then, focus on these issues in the media because of the large expatriate population and local issues are sidelined by them, said the NHRC chairman.
He said he strongly supports the recommendations of the State Cabinet that more and more Qataris should be encouraged to enter journalism so that local issues are highlighted in the Qatari media.