27 Jun 2018 – 16:17

UN's highest court begins hearing Qatar lawsuit against UAE

Outside view of the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands), in February 2012. The Peace Palace has been the seat of the Court since 1946. (Photo: ICJ)

By Jon Gambrell / AP

The United Nations’ highest court on Wednesday began hearing a lawsuit by Qatar against United Arab Emirates of “discrimination against Qatar and Qatari citizens” amid a yearlong blockade by four Arab nations.

“There are no opportunities for Qataris to seek justice for these human rights abuses,” said Mohammed Abdulaziz al-Khulaifi, one of Qatar’s representatives at the hearing. “The UAE has fostered such an environment of hate against Qataris. … Individuals in the UAE are afraid of even speaking to family members living in Qatar.”

qatar airways

Qatar filed the lawsuit earlier this month, accusing the UAE of violating its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the other countries blockading Qatar in the dispute, have not consented to the court’s jurisdiction, though the UAE has, Doha said.

The UAE’s violations include that “thousands of Qataris are unable to return to the UAE, separated from their families there,” al-Khulaifi said, adding that Qataris have lost jobs and property, and have been unable to continue their studies at UAE universities. He also said the UAE has threatened prosecution for those who offer “sympathy” for Qatar amid the dispute.

Representatives for the UAE will respond to Qatar during a hearing scheduled for Thursday.

“The real purpose of the demands (by blockading countries) is to undermine Qatar’s sovereignty,” al-Khulaifi said.

The blockade has hurt Qatar Airways. Qatar has sent complaints to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN body, about the blockading countries closing off their airspace, as well as violating the country’s airspace.