Qaṭar: GCHR calls on the government to respect independence of lawyers

26.01.21

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on the Qatari authorities to respect the independence of lawyers, in order to ensure that civic space is protected. 

On 24 January 2021, the Qatar Lawyers Association posted a statement on its Twitter account, complaining about the arbitrary decision issued by the Bar Admission Committee to remove lawyer Abdullah Ahmed Taher from the list of working lawyers. 

In its statement, the Association described this decision as: “An error in interpreting the law and an arbitrariness in its application by the committee .... due to its neglect of the lawyer’s right to the guarantees provided by Law No. 23 of 2006 and its amendments to lawyers, represented in investigation and disciplinary accountability.”

The Association’s statement also made clear that the Committee, "has no discretionary authority over the facts on which the delisting decision is based." It added, "In application of the minimum rules of justice and fairness, the Committee was supposed to implement the text of Article 06 of the Lawyers’ Law and refer the lawyer for investigation and disciplinary accountability, not to end his career and expose his clients' rights to loss."

The statement affirmed, "The failure to conduct an investigation with the lawyer and confronting him with the evidence in the possession of the Bar Admission Committee, which proves that he has lost the fourth condition of the registration conditions stipulated in Article 13 of the Law on Lawyers, is a matter that proves that the Committee issuing the decision has reached the highest level of arbitrary application of the law and shows that the Committee does not have conclusive evidence that is not open to interpretation in order to confront the lawyer.”

The statement went on to express the Qatar Lawyers Association’s dissatisfaction “with this arbitrary decision” and its deep concern “over the independence of the legal profession, which is subject to complete control by the executive authority represented by the Ministry of Justice.” It stressed that, "This arbitrary decision has proven beyond any doubt that the legal profession does not enjoy independence, which is guaranteed under all international conventions and treaties concerned with the legal profession."

The statement was signed by the lawyer Rashid bin Nasser Al-Nuaimi, Chairman of the Qatari Lawyers Association, who posted the same day a tweet on his Twitter account, stating: “As the Chairman of the Qatar Lawyers Association, I say it clearly: We in the association are not against accountability, and no one is above accountability, however, we are against arbitrary and unfair decisions that violate the lawyer’s right to investigate, confront, and prosecute, and they are guarantees that the law ensured to the lawyer and the constitution for all members of society.”

Taher, who works as a lawyer before the Court of Cassation, denounced the decision on his Twitter page, saying in a tweet, “Judgments issued by the court ....... are not immediately executed based on the text of the law, unless the ruling includes expeditious enforcement, so how, by a lower court decision, can an administrative decision that is subject to appeal before the committee and before the Court of Appeal be implemented immediately, even though the dismissal decision did not investigate or question me.”

He said in another tweet, "How can a decision writing me off be issued without an investigation, question or final judgment, and it has become proof of my guilt? I swear to God it is a surprising and strange matter!!!"

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) declares its full solidarity with the Qatar Lawyers Association in all its demands, especially those related to maintaining the independence of the legal profession and not maintaining it under the full control of the executive body represented by the Ministry of Justice. GCHR condemns the arbitrary decision issued by the Bar Admission Committee against the lawyer Abdullah Ahmed Taher, and calls on it to immediately reinstate him, as the decision is illegal and is not based on any tangible evidence against him and because it constitutes a clear violation of Law No. 23 of 2006 and its amendments.