Qaṭar: Continuing grave violations of citizens' civil and human rights
The Qatari authorities continue their grave violations of the civil and human rights of citizens, unjustly depriving a number of them of their right to freedom of movement and travel outside the country. The authorities also prevented a Saudi citizen from entering the country and submitting a complaint to the judiciary after his commercial partner, who is an influential figure with the Emiri Guard, confiscated all his property in Qatar, including the commercial company in which he owns 49% of shares.
Deafening silence from the Qatari government
The Qatari government has maintained complete silence since the joint appeal issued by Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) on 07 February 2022, about the arbitrary travel ban imposed by the authorities on four citizens. Saud bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Thani, a former employee of the Interior Ministry, challenged the travel ban imposed on him since 2016. Dr. Najeeb Mohammed Al-Nuaimi, a former justice minister, has been banned from travel since 2017. Abdullah bin Ahmed Bu Matar Al-Mohannadi, a businessman, has been banned from travel by the authorities since 2013. Mohammed Yousef Al-Sulaiti, a Qatari citizen with US residency, has been banned from travel by the authorities since 2018 and detained since October 2020.
On 19 February 2022, Saud bin Khalifa Al-Thani made a direct appeal to the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad, through a video posted on his Twitter account, in which he called on the Emir to lift the unjust travel ban against him and allow him to travel outside the country.
In addition to the four citizens mentioned in the joint appeal, there are four other citizens whose basic rights, including freedom of movement to and from Qatar, were also violated.
Qatari citizen Issa Mardi Juhaim Al-Shammari
Qatari citizen Issa Mardi Juhaim Al-Shammari, on 01 October 2014, went to conduct a routine government transaction, and when he presented his ID card, the government employee told him that his name had been blacklisted and that his ID number had become prohibited, and referred him to the main Passport Department in the capital, Doha.
The next day, when he went to the main passport office in Doha, they confiscated his identity card and passport without giving him the reasons for taking them until this day. He tried to file a complaint with the judiciary against the competent authorities, but they refused to receive his complaint.
Without his official documents, Al-Shammari has been deprived of all his basic rights, he cannot marry, he is not allowed to get a job, he is denied access to medical care, and he cannot even get a mobile phone chip. All of these grave violations occur against him as a free human being despite his possession of a document of good conduct and behaviour issued by the competent authorities.
Qatari citizen Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al-Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Qatari citizen Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Abdulrahman Al-Thani, a member of the extended ruling family who does not have government responsibilities, is known on social media as the "Prince of Time". He 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 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 detained in April 2021 for about a month by the State Security Apparatus due to his peaceful activities on the Internet and his demand to lift the travel ban imposed on him without any reasons, and to allow him to join his family in the Emirates. There is currently no news in his case, so he is still in Qatar waiting for a solution to his case.
Qatari citizen Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Al-Thani
Qatari citizen Mohammed Abdulrahman Mubarak Al-Thani, a member of the extended ruling family who is currently without government responsibilities, has been banned from travel since March 2018, without knowing the reasons for this ban, which caused him great material and moral damage. Despite his repeated pleas, the Qatari authorities have remained definitively silent.
On 20 February 2022, he tweeted on his Twitter account: "We have contacted the National Human Rights Committee since that time, and we have not seen results yet."
On 24 November 2021, he published the following poem within a tweet:
Four years and the fifth follows them
We were prevented from going astray, and from travelling
Before that, I was fired
And the press is forbidden to write about it
Your weekly article
Even if it was on my love for my country
And they put me in a solitary confinement room
Days and nights…and I don't know why
What for God's sake do you want…
Doesn’t the constitution say we were given freedom of speech!!
Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Thani uses his Twitter account to express his personal opinions about events taking place in the region and the world. He was writing a column entitled "Qatariyat" in the Qatari newspaper "Al-Raya" and was a legal advisor at the Ministry of Justice before he was suspended from writing and working.
Saudi citizen Mohammed Mishaan Al-Shammari
A Saudi citizen, Mohammed Mishaan Al-Shammari, who has property and a commercial company in Qatar, in which he owns 49% of shares, but on 13 November 2021, he was prevented from entering Qatar through the Salwa land border crossing. Then, in December 2021, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in an official letter to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the State of Qatar had decided to prevent him from entering Qatari territory, without giving any reasons.
For three continuous months, starting in July 2017, Mohammed Mishaan Al-Shammari was communicating using all available means with his business partner, who is an influential person affiliated with the Emiri Guard, an elite military protection unit of the Qatari Armed Forces, but to no avail. This was followed by a letter which he delivered to his partner's cousin to give to his partner. The answer he received from his partner was, "Go and take your rights from the courts," but he is not allowed to enter the country to file such a judicial complaint.
Well-informed local sources assured him that he was prevented from entering Qatar because of the close relationship between his partner's father and uncle with the Minister of Interior, which is the body that has the right to issue orders to prevent administrative entry into the country.
These arbitrary travel bans are inconsistent with Article 36 of the Qatari Constitution which states, "Personal freedom is guaranteed. No person may be arrested, imprisoned, searched, or restricted in his freedom of residence or movement except in accordance with the provisions of the law."
GCHR firmly believes that the State Security Apparatus is behind all these grave human rights violations taking place in Qatar, and the responsibility for this is shared by some of the most influential people in the Emiri Guard and the Ministry of Interior.
The 2003 law regulating the work of the state security apparatus gives it an exceptional and highly problematic level of discretion to deny rights or detain any citizen, and it should be repealed and amended, in order to protect the civil and human rights of all citizens. The duty of security forces should be to protect people and not put them in jail or impose illegal travel bans on them. It can be said that the State Security Apparatus has gained control over all state facilities, including the judiciary, which has lost its ability to achieve justice for citizens whose civil and human rights are being violated.
GCHR calls on all international mechanisms, including the United Nations, to intervene and put pressure on the Qatari government to bring justice to the victims of these grave violations, grant them their right to freedom of movement and compensate them for all their material losses and mental anguish.
As the Qatari government prepares to receive the 2022 FIFA World Cup participants from five continents, it should grant the same right to freedom of movement to all citizens, whose right to freedom of movement has been curtailed despite the fact that they have not been found guilty of any crime.
GCHR also calls on the head of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in Qatar, Maryam bint Abdullah Al-Attiyah, who was appointed to this position in October 2021, to fulfill her duty, which includes stopping these violations against these eight citizens.