Qaṭar: Authorities should restore citizenship to journalist Faraj Mezher Al-Shammari and his family

25.01.23

Despite his repeated demands, the authorities in Qatar continue to refuse to return the Qatari nationality to independent journalist Faraj Mezher Al-Shammari after they arbitrarily stripped it from him.

On 15 June 1999, Al-Shammari published an article in his weekly column (“The Fourth Dimension”) published in the Qatari Al-Raya newspaper, in which he dealt with issues of fees and taxes that were imposed on citizens at that time. The next day, he was called and summoned by the Al-Gharafa Passports Office, near the capital, Doha, and his personal civil card was withdrawn, in addition to the cards of his family members. The reasons for this arbitrary measure were not explained.

On 28 June 1999, he and his family were placed in Deportation Prison for three months without any investigation or interview. Although he was in prison, after an officer promised to pardon him, he published an apology in the same newspaper for his article, which was devoid of any offense, but the authorities did not pardon him or release him. He was then forced to submit a request to be deported to Saudi Arabia, where he currently resides with his family since 1999.

Reliable sources confirmed that the only reason for targeting him was the above-mentioned article, in which he referred to the slow arrival of the Amiri blessing for people with limited income, and the financial suffering of young people despite the diversity of income sources in the country between oil and gas and the small population, which as he mentioned in this article does not exceed a quarter of a million people.

In addition to his newspaper work, Al-Shammari worked as a broadcaster on Qatar TV, was a player on the Qatar golf team, and was an elected member of the first municipal council for Umm Salal and Al-Kharaitiyat, after the country’s first municipal elections in 1999. He represented his country in many international golf competitions.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns the revocation of the Qatari nationality of independent journalist Faraj Mezher Al-Shammari, due to his peaceful journalistic activity and his call to solve the daily problems that confront citizens - an act that the Qatari government should have rejoiced and welcomed and taken positive measures to provide effective solutions for instead of retaliating against him.

GCHR calls upon the Qatari government to restore citizenship to Al-Shammari and all members of his family and to fairly compensate them for all the material and psychological damages incurred due to these arbitrary and unfair measures.

GCHR urges the authorities in Qatar to solve the chronic problem represented by the presence of a large number of citizens who have had their nationality revoked without any valid reasons, which has led to arduous suffering for them and their families. The only solution is to return the Qatari nationality to all of them and to compensate them justly as well.