Qaṭar: : Government has evaded obligations to respect and protect freedom and rights of woman human rights defender Noof Al-Maadeed


Qatari woman human rights defender Noof Al-Maadeed withdrew her request for asylum in the United Kingdom and left the country on 30 September 2021 to return to Qatar after she said the Qatari authorities promised to provide her with the necessary protection and respect for her human rights. Al-Maadeed had sought asylum, citing abuse by her family. However, following her return she reported receiving threats to her life and sought protection from the authorities, while complaining publicly about the lack of help. On the evening of 13 October 2021, Al-Maadeed stopped reporting on social media and has not been heard from since. This has led to frequent alarming reports that she may be detained incommunicado or even killed.

Despite the efforts of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) to verify these very disturbing reports and discover her whereabouts, the Qatari government has refused to officially comment, as of the publication of this appeal. A Qatari official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told GCHR that senior officials had issued strict instructions not to publicly comment on this case, which leaves questions and great doubts about her safety and circumstances. Qatari authorities, without attributing information to any specific person or department in the government, have told media and others she is safe, and in good health, but have failed to provide any evidence to prove the validity of this claim.

Even if the reports of her death are not true, this still means that she is in some form of detention and completely isolated from the outside world, including being prevented from exercising her right to express her opinion on her social media accounts. Lack of contact with the outside world poses grave risks to her health and life.

Since publishing its viral appeal on 14 December 2021, which aimed to again shed light on her case and reach the truth about what happened to her, GCHR has received numerous reports from Qatari citizens inside and outside Qatar containing various unconfirmed information. Some of these reports refer to her murder either on 13 October 2021 or at a later time by her family, or claim that her family is confining her in their home. Further reports conflict with this information and instead allege that she is being held in some form of detention by the authorities and is denied contact with the outside world.

Despite GCHR’s endless efforts to obtain assurances from the Qatari government and the embassies of the State of Qatar, including the Qatari embassy in London, sadly all these efforts have failed. GCHR cannot confirm the reports of her murder but the authorities need to provide documented information to prove that she is alive, including by ensuring she has contact with the outside world. At present, all information points to Al-Maadeed facing serious risks to her life and liberty.

The Qatari authorities should provide documented information on the fate of woman human rights defender Noof Al-Maadeed, ensure that she has contact with the outside world to speak without any restriction, and to release her from any form of detention she might be held in.

GCHR, once again, calls on the international community, in particular the mechanisms of the United Nations, and governments that have influence in Qatar - including members of the European Union - to act immediately to pressure the Qatari authorities to ensure that Al-Maadeed is safe and may live freely in Qatar. The government of Qatar cannot continue to ignore the world opinion that is searching for the truth, and its absolute silence will be a certain condemnation, as it bears full responsibility for preserving the safety of its citizens, including Noof Al-Maadeed.