Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, on the Universal Periodic Review for Qatar in 2019
Introduction and Second-Cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Recommendations
During its second UPR cycle in 2014, Qatar received 12 recommendations pertaining to free expression, free press, and the right to privacy.
These included 124.49 (France) to “Guarantee freedom of expression by protecting journalists, bloggers and media professionals from arbitrary arrest and detention and from censorship, including by amending those provisions in the Criminal Code and the draft media law that are inconsistent with international standards of freedom of expression;” 124.53 (Sweden) to “Take immediate measures to ensure that the national regulations pertaining to the Internet guarantee freedom of expression;” 124.52 (Austria) to “Amend those articles of the draft media law and the draft cybercrime law that are inconsistent with international standards of freedom of expression;” and 124.54 (Czech Republic) to “Ensure that the judicial and law enforcement system is not abused to harass individuals for expressing their political or religious views, including on the Internet.”
Although the Qatari government ultimately made efforts to meet some important second-cycle recommendations in the ensuing four years, such as partially implementing 125.7 (United States of America) to release prisoners of conscience like poet Mohammed Al-Ajmi – a recommendation that was originally rejected by Qatar – it has failed to make the majority of necessary reforms to guarantee free expression, including on the internet. Qatari authorities have continued to restrict these fundamental freedoms and infringe on the right to privacy.
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