The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) of the State of Qatar has released a report documenting the violations against the citizens of the four Gulf states following the decision by three Gulf states (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Bahrain) to cut ties with Qatar, and impose a land blockade with shutting down the air and sea routes. Additionally, these three states notified their citizens that they have to leave the State of Qatar within 14 days, and banned Qatari citizens from entering their lands.
The report notes that 13,314 at least were directly affected by that decision. The violations included family separations, violations to the right to travel, education, work, freedom of opinion, residency and ownership.
The report noted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kingdom of Bahrain have taken severe, escalated, shocking steps on 5 June, 2017, that involved the shutdown of sea, land, and air routes in the face of trades, but also in the face of the Gulf Citizen in a series of actions never witnessed before by the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), disregarding all human rights and humanitarian standards and principles and their legal repercussions.
According to the report, hundreds of complaints have been submitted to the NHRC via e-mail, phone, or personal visits to the NHRC headquarters in Doha, Qatar’s capital. According to data collected by NHRC, approximately 11,387 citizens from the three blockading states live in Qatar, and approximately 1927 Qatari citizens live in those states. All of those people have been affected in different areas and sectors to varying degrees. In some cases, the actions of the blockading states separated a mother from her children.
The report stresses that NHRC appreciates and esteems the step taken by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and UAE to take into consideration the situation of mixed families (Saudi-Qatari, Bahraini-Qatari, and Emirati-Qatari families), adding that this a step in the right direction. The report, however, calls on the three states to clarify the implementation mechanisms, and emphasizes that it has to include all human rights and legal areas
Dr. Ali Al Marri, chairman of NHRC, stated that “”The suffering of the GCC people has become notable through the reports published by the NHRC, international reports and statements and stories published in the mainstream media and social media. After all, we hope that the besieging countries take into account the rights and interests of the GCC peoples”.
NHRC team recorded roughly 2451 complaints of various types of violations against citizens of the four Gulf states, where the work methodology draws upon visits by the victims to the NHRC headquarters and the special forms that NHRC prepared and were filled in by the victims with detailed information, in addition to attaching copies of victims’ IDs, while some victims attached university and school reports, work contracts, or other documents that are available in the NHRC archive.
The report notes that some individuals were subjected to more than one type of violation. The report highlights at least two cases for each violation type. Also, the report includes a table with classifications of the violations by type and the responsible country:
|health||Movement||Family reunification||property||education||Responsible country|
What the NHRC was able to report and document is still the bare minimum, considering that many of those whose rights were violated don’t know of the existence of any mechanisms for complaint submission. In addition, many complainants were afraid to reveal their identities due to the measures and actions that could be taken against them by their countries’ local authorities if they contacted or submitted a compliant. Finally, there are violations against minors (under 18 years), and since they do not have identity documents, statistics do not include a large number of them.
The report notes that the Qatari government didn’t take any action against the citizens of the three states, and we didn’t receive any complaint of that nature.
The report notes that the decisions of the governments of KSA, UAE, and Bahrain Kingdom have violated a number of international human rights laws and principles, as well as several fundamental human rights, which are treated as international norms due to its wide scope of application on the international level, including articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Most notably: 5,9,12,13,19,23, and 26), Articles in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (most notably Part III of Article 6, and Articles 10 and 13), articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Part II of Article 2), in addition to Articles in the Arab Charter on Human Rights (Articles 3,8,26,32, and 33), the GCC Declarations of Human Rights (Articles 6, 9, 14, 24, and 27), and the Economic Agreement between the GCC States. Therefore, those states are responsible for protecting and preserving the rights and interests of the individuals living on their lands.
The report calls on the international community to take urgent action to lift the siege, and make every possible effort to mitigate its repercussions on the people of the State of Qatar and citizens of the three countries. It also calls on the United Nations and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to take speedy steps to bind the besieging states to countermand their decisions.
Additionally, the report calls on the OHCHR to prepare reports and statements documenting the various types of violations that affected great numbers of people, especially the families that were separated, including the resulting consequences on women and children; and calls on these states to respect the basic freedoms of the people living on their lands.
The report calls on the Human Rights Council to take every possible action in order to end the blockade and its ramifications, and calls for the compensation of all people who were affected.
Moreover, the report calls on Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs to document forms on the various types of violations that occurred, and contact the concerned governments in that regard as soon as possible. The report asserts that NHRC is ready to share all the relevant data on violations and complaints.
In addition, the report calls on that Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Council’s Conflict Resolution Commission, to move as quickly as possible and do everything in its power to convince the governments of the besieging countries to settle the social, civil, and cultural situation for the families and citizens.
The report calls on KSA, UAE, and Kingdom of Bahrain to respect the uniqueness of the Gulf societies, and to refrain from making any decisions that sever the ties between families and societies, and to countermand these decisions as soon as possible.
Also, the report calls on those states to respect the basic human rights to movement, private property, work, residence, and freedom of expression and opinion in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Arab Charter on Human Rights.
Also, the report stressed that the political developments should not affect the humanitarian and social situations. Finally, the report calls on the Qatari government to take all possible steps at the international level, at the level of the Security Council and the international courts, to lift the siege on the people of Qatar, to defend their rights in the face of violations against them, and to hold accountable those who are responsible for all the violations.