Analysis

UN Report Condemns Human Rights Violations During Siege

“The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights released a Report On the Impact of the Gulf Crisis on Human Rights detailing human rights violations stemming from the diplomatic siege against Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain (the “Quartet”).

Report On the Impact of the Gulf Crisis on Human Rights

The Report On the Impact of the Gulf Crisis on Human Rights follows up on the High Commissioner’s statement on June 14, 2017 urging all parties involved in the crisis to act quickly to solve the dispute and refrain from actions that could run counter to international human rights law. The report identifies four categories of victims in the diplomatic crisis:

  1. Qataris living or studying in the Quartet countries who were forced to leave
  2. Quartet nationals who lived in Qatar and were forced to leave
  3. Migrant workers in Qatar who lost their jobs and face new economic pressure
  4. The citizens of Qatar and the Quartet in general

Several human rights violations are noted in the report, including:

Media instrumentalization and speech restrictions: state media sources in the quartet countries have been leveraged to promote anti-Qatar messaging across media formats and governments have implemented new criminal restrictions on expressions of sympathy towards Qatar.

  • Restriction of communications and freedom of movement: both Qatari and Quartet nationals have suffered sweeping new restrictions on their freedom of movement and communications. Family bonds were disrupted, students’ studies were interrupted, and workers’ employment was forcibly suspended.
  • Separation of families based on nationality and residence: the diplomatic crisis has put thousands of Qatari and Quartet citizens in mixed marriages in a precarious legal position, with many being forcibly separated from families or risking loss of citizenship and even statelessness.
  • Economic and property rights: Qataris with business in the Quartet countries lost access to their businesses and, with all financial transactions suspended, were left unable to provide salaries, pensions, rents, bill payments, and more.
  • Health rights: Qatar’s Ministry of Health has tracked over a hundred cases of Qataris previously seeking healthcare treatment in Quartet countries whose care was interrupted as a result of the diplomatic crisis and who were forced to seek care elsewhere. Despite this, Qatar has continued treating Quartet country residents in Qatar without discrimination with respect to nationality.
  • Education rights: Qatar’s Ministry of Education estimates over 200 cases of Qatari students studying in Quartet countries whose studies were effectively suspended as a result of the crisis. While Qatar University and the Ministry of Education have succeeded in placing many students in corresponding programs in Qatar, many students lack access to the necessary paperwork, were enrolled in differently credited classes, or were simply studying areas that are not yet available in Qatar.

The High Commissioner found that the non-targeted nature of the diplomatic siege, which fails to differentiate between the government of Qatar and its citizens, constitutes the definition of unilateral coercive measures to a degree. While the Qatari National Human Rights Committee has worked diligently to solve human rights problems arising from the crisis on a case-by-case basis, most cases remain unresolved and are expected to have a long term effect on the victims.

Read the Report On the Impact of the Gulf Crisis on Human Rights

 

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