The US administration, elites, organisations and parliamentarians, as well as American politicians, can play more effective role in pressuring the blockading countries and urging them to stop their violations of human rights, said the Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) HE Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri.
He noted that after more than two years, the Gulf crisis is still in place, and the suffering of the victims is getting worse because of the intransigence of the blockading countries and their disregard for the calls of governments and international organisations that condemned the violations caused by the blockade.
This came during a seminar held by the Qatari-US Center in Washington, DC, in the presence of a group of think tanks in the United States, including diplomats, intellectuals, researchers of intellectual institutions, writers and journalists, where they talked about developments of the human rights in Qatar and the repercussions of the blockade imposed on it, since June 5, 2017.
At the beginning of the session, Dr al-Marri gave an overview of the establishment of the NHRC, its tasks, the most important challenges it faced in protecting and developing human rights in Qatar, and the new challenges posed by the blockade crisis.
Responding to a question about the committee’s handling of complaints filed by expatriate workers in Qatar, Dr al-Marri said: “Since the establishment of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), we have been keen to receive all complaints by expatriates from different nationalities and we are working with the concerned authorities in the country to resolve the problems raised.
“We have made many recommendations to the Qatari government to amend some laws, and many legislations have been amended in favour of the protection of labour rights and human rights in general, notably abolition of the sponsorship law.”
He noted the importance of the opening of the ILO office in Doha and its appreciation of the reforms undertaken by the Qatari government for the protection and development of human rights.
On the challenges facing the NHRC since the beginning of the Gulf crisis, Dr
al-Marri said, “since the first day of the blockade, we have been plagued by complaints from citizens and residents of the State of Qatar, and even from the countries of the blockade themselves and we have been keen to communicate with the various concerned bodies and human rights institutions of the blockading countries themselves, to try to stop the violations that affected thousands of families, but to no avail, unfortunately! a matter which forced us to go to international organisations.”
“Over the past two years, we have worked on different legal and human rights paths to try to redress the victims, condemn the grave violations of the blockade, and encourage the affected people and the Qatari government to take all possible legal and judicial measures to redress victims first.”
Dr al-Marri gave the audience copies of the reports of the NHRC on the violations recorded since the beginning of the blockade together with the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the decisions of the International Court of Justice, which all unanimously condemned the discriminatory measures of the blockading countries against the citizens and residents of Qatar.
He also provided them with a brief overview of the international cases against the countries of the blockade, with the Committee on Racial Discrimination, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the International Court of Justice, World Trade, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and other legal tracks.
Dr al-Marri presented a detailed report on the decisions of the ICJ on the violations of the UAE, pointing out that it extended to property owners and investors who suffered losses since the beginning of the crisis and have not been able to recover their property or compensation for damage to their property, in parallel to the difficult access of those affected to the UAE courts to exercise their right to litigation, as stipulated in the ICJ ruling pointing out that the UAE has become an unsafe environment for Qatari investors.
On his assessment of the US role since the beginning of the Gulf crisis, Dr al-Marri said: “We believe that the US administration can play a more effective and influential role in resolving the Gulf crisis and pressure its allies the blockading countries to stop violations of the rights of citizens and residents of the State of Qatar, and the right of Gulf families in general, as a matter of priority given by Washington to the issue of defending human rights in the world.”
He went to say that “similarly, we are betting on a greater role for thought leaders in the United States. You thinkers, diplomats, parliamentarians and journalists are the most important players who can play a crucial role in protecting human rights and educating world public opinion.”
The participants expressed their astonishment at the serious dimensions of the crisis of the blockade of Qatar and asked why harsh sanctions have been imposed on citizens and residents of the Gulf states due to the political crisis.
They stressed the need to neutralise civilians in any political conflicts.