Qaṭar: Open letter to Emir regarding travel ban of 5 innocent citizens and imprisonment of two of them

11.05.21

His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, with respect.

We, the undersigned human rights organisations of this letter, call on you to issue immediate orders to end the travel ban imposed on five Qatari citizens, Mohammed Yousef Al-SulaitiSaoud Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-ThaniDr. Najeeb Mohammed Al-NuaimiAbdullah Bin Ahmed Bu Matar Al-Muhannadi and Abdulaziz Bin Mohammed Bin Saoud Al-Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

On 04 October 2020, the State Security Bureau arrested Mohammed Yousef Al-Sulaiti from his home and placed him in solitary confinement, due to a tweet on his Twitter account in which he protested the arbitrary order to prevent him from travelling. His Twitter account disappeared after his arrest and he is still being detained in a prison belonging to the State Security Bureau.

On 16 August 2020, he submitted a request to meet the Public Prosecutor in addition to a petition requesting his travel ban be lifted. The two requests were rejected, despite the fact that he clarified his need to travel to the United States in order to liquidate his property and return to his homeland. The travel ban has caused severe psychological and material damage to him.  

On 18 April 2016, Saoud Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, a member of the extended ruling family who does not have government responsibilities, was banned from travelling based on a directive issued by the National Command Centre at the Ministry of Interior, on the orders of the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior at the time, Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani. On 01 April 2019, he filed a complaint with the Administrative Court of First Instance to challenge the travel ban issued by the Ministry of Interior. Following this complaint, the Ministry of Interior decided to cancel its order preventing him from travelling. However, instead of allowing him to travel, the State Security Bureau issued an order that included a travel ban on 02 May 2019.

On 26 June 2017, the Capital Security Administration informed Dr. Najeeb Mohammed Al-Nuaimi, a human rights lawyer, that the travel ban previously imposed on him on 07 January 2017 had been renewed despite the fact that the Appeal Court in Qatar revoked it on 30 May 2017. On 08 January 2017, he received a text message from the Public Prosecution, that includes his ID number, confirming a travel ban against him without explaining the actual reasons. Dr. Al-Nuaimi is a well-known human rights lawyer who voluntarily defended prisoners of conscience in Qatar.

Abdullah Bin Ahmed Bu Matar Al-Muhannadi, 58 years of age, was placed on a travel ban as of 01 September 2013 by the State Security Bureau, which also put security restrictions and monitoring on the use if his ID card, which is necessary to complete various transactions according to the procedures in force in the country.  He met a large number of officials and submitted requests to various competent authorities in order to lift the ban or explain its reasons, but to no avail. At the beginning of 2021, his case was transferred to the State Security Prosecution. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he submitted an electronic request to the State Security Prosecution, which refused his request without giving the reasons or referring the request to the judiciary, and thus the travel ban against him remains in place.  In recent years, Al-Muhannadi liquidated and closed his company due to the severe security restrictions imposed on his personal ID card, which disrupted all his transactions in state departments and banks, leading to losses in the millions. It also prevented him from carrying out any commercial or social activity, without knowing the reasons behind the continued arbitrary travel ban against him, which also caused him additional psychological pain.

Abdulaziz Bin Mohammed Bin Saoud Al-Abdulrahman Al-Thani, a member of the extended ruling family who does not have government responsibilities, known on social media as the "Prince of Time", posted a video on 17 March 2021 on his YouTube account, in which he said that he was living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he was married to an Emirati woman and has a son and two daughters. He was a successful businessman there. He was ordered to return by the Qatari government after the crisis between some Gulf countries, including the UAE and Qatar. He returned "in compliance with the orders of the Emir of Qatar," as he said in his speech on 16 July 2017 while boarding a private plane, and since that time he has been banned from travelling. He also said, "I appeal to the honourable people to convey my message to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad." Recent local reports indicated that he was imprisoned nearly a month ago by the State Security Service because of his peaceful activities on the Internet.

These arbitrary travel bans are inconsistent with Article 36 of the Qatari Constitution, which states that, "Personal freedom shall be guaranteed and no person may be arrested, detained or searched, neither may his freedom of residence and mobility be restricted, save under the provisions of the Law."

These arbitrary measures also do not comply with human rights principles and seriously harm Qatar's international reputation, especially as it is about to organise the FIFA World Cup in 2022. 

The undersigned international organisations call on the Emir of Qatar, as the head of state, to use your powers to immediately release Mohammad Yousef Al-Sulaiti and Abdulaziz Bin Mohammed Bin Saoud Al-Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and to grant these five citizens who are currently subject to travel bans their right to freedom of movement, especially as the holiday of Eid approaches and in order to allow them to celebrate with their families.

Signed

  1. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
  2. AFD International for Human Rights
  3. Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights
  4. Al Haq- Palestine 
  5. ALQST for Human Rights
  6. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
  7. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  8. Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CDFA)
  9. Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia
  10. Democratic Transition & Human Rights Support Centre (DAAM)
  11. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  12. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  13. 13.  Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM)
  14. Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR)
  15. Metro Center for Journalists Rights & Advocacy
  16. Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH)
  17. Mwatana for Human Rights (Yemen)
  18. National Forum of Human Rights (NFHR)
  19. No Peace Without Justice
  20. Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS)
  21. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
  22. Tunisian Association for Cultural Action (ATAC)
  23. Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities (TASM)
  24. Tunisian Association of Democratic Women
  25. Tunisian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
  26. Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH)
  27. Tunisian Organization Against Torture
  28. Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
  29. Yemeni Institute for Strategic Affairs