NHRC to hire international legal firm to support blockade victims

 11 Jun 2017 - 7:45

NHRC to hire international legal firm to support blockade victims
Ali bin Sumaikh Al Marri, Chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, holding a meeting with Qatari lawyers to prepare for legal complaints.

The Peninsula

Qatar National Human Rights Committee has received complaints from 700 victims of unjustified blockade. The Committee will employ an international legal firm to pursue compensation for Qatari and GCC citizens who have approached it after being affected by the current unjust boycott imposed on Qatar by Gulf states.

The Committee will meet with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, followed by a press conference at UN Headquarters to inform the international community of the human rights situation.

“We have heard many tragic testimonies of families being ripped apart. Women, children and even men have broken down in tears as they relate their cases. We cannot accept this, and we cannot remain silent,” said the Committee in a statement yesterday.  The Committee has been in daily contact with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein spoke to us yesterday of the concrete steps he is taking to find a solution to the unjust and inhumane human rights violations resulting from the embargo against Qatar.

“The High Commissioner has met with the ambassadors of the three states enforcing the embargo and informed them of the reports of the NHRC, and our demand for urgent action,” said the Committee.

All the ambassadors acknowledged the humanitarian and human rights situation, and informed the ambassador that they would discuss the situation with their respective countries. There has been a major response by international bodies and NGOs who have issued statements and made calls in favour of lifting the embargo. The Committee yesterday held a consultative meeting with the Qatar Lawyer’s Association and a group of Qatari lawyers to prepare to legal complaints.

Amnesty International has published a detailed report documenting the flagrant human rights violations resulting from the embargo. Following on from this the NHRC and Amnesty are coordinating on proceeding with international legal action. To the same end, the NHRC has been in regular contact with Human Rights Watch regarding the serious humanitarian consequences of the blockade for ordinary citizens.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, warned: “This is not just a "diplomatic dispute". The blockade of Qatar has real human costs.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it plans to send its own team of experts to Doha to examine complaints first-hand and interview the victims face-to-face.

The NHRC has been in touch with over 300 international and regional organisations, and has provided them with detailed reports and facts on the situation and those affected, and has asked them to act to end the siege.

Many Arab and international organisations have also issued statements condemning the embargo, and have made appeals to see it lifted.

The NHRC has address the President of the Arab Parliament, the Chairman of the Arab Permanent Committee on Human Rights at the Arab League, the Chairman of the Arab Human Rights Committee (the Charter Committee), and the Chairman of the Independent Permanent Authority for Human Rights in the Organisation of Islamic Coooperation (OIC), and has stressed the necessity of taking responsibility to deal with the situation and flagrant human rights violations. 

The NHRC urges these organisations to demand the three states imposing the embargo to honour their international commitments and lift the blockade.

“We have spoken to the Saudi Human Rights Commission, the United Arab Emirates Human Rights Society, and the National Human Rights Organisation in Bahrain, and have asked them to act quickly to address the violations of the rights of Qatari citizens and the citizens of their countries as a result of the siege, and they have all recognised the poor humanitarian and human rights situation. We await their further response,” said the Committee.

The NHRC delegation will also hold a seminar in the European Parliament in Brussels, and has scheduled discussions with a number of EU human rights and foreign affairs officials.