Qatar is yet again into the limelight for the wrong reasons. It is now being openly accused and being held responsible for ‘violation of freedom of opinion and association laws that are openly undermining fundamental individual rights.’
The glaring example of that is the hue and cry of some Ghufran families residing in Qatar, that have been systematically eliminated from having any kind of civil rights as a citizen of the nation.
The families of the Ghufran community have continued to suffer from identity crises with Qatar having stripped them of their citizenship, since 1996. The situation still remains the same and reiterates the onset 20 years ago, when they have stripped off any kind of human rights and left to fend for themselves. Having left stateless, the members of the Ghufran clan are now without access to work, basic amenities, health care, educational facilities, etc.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has recently criticized the policies and legislation of Qatar which restrict freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and freedom of association and trade unions, in contradiction with the international conventions signed by Doha and the Qatari Constitution that guarantees these rights.
The Geneva-based watchdog, it is confirmed, has said that these policies ‘undermine the fundamental rights of individuals to express their views in line with international conventions and treaties, which may lead to a deterioration of recent human rights improvements in Qatar.’
It has also come to light that restrictions levied by Qatar also ‘restrict the freedom of media in accordance with the provisions of the media law issued in 2012.’Surprisingly, in addition to the above, the Press and Publications Act 1997, provides for the punishment of imprisonment for anyone who insults the Emir of Qatar, and widely bans media outlets from addressing matters that may cause harm to the “best interests of the country” or to “public morality”.
The current functioning of the Qatari Emir and the ruling government seems to be working contrary to the Qatari Constitution as well. Apparently, “Article 47 of the Qatari Constitution does provide freedom of opinion and research in accordance with the articles of the Qatari law.”
The Geneva-based organization called on the Qatari authorities to live up to international standards relating to the right to association and assembly of Qatari and non-Qatari nationals alike.
In the recent past, Qatar has continued to ignore the guidelines prescribed by the UN to prevent human rights violations. Currently, the Qatari government does not allow workers and professionals to form associations and unions to represent them and deliver their demands to decision-makers in the country.
They have exploited migrant workers and stripped judges of their right to free ruling. Also, the Consultative Assembly of Qatar does not hold equal representation anymore, making decision making skewed in the favor of the Emir. Ideally, the Consultative Assembly of Qatar consists of 45 members, two-thirds of whom are elected while 15 members are appointed by the emir. Since 2006, the Emir has appointed all members of the assembly.