Human rights organizations call for immediate action to lift the ban imposed on Qatari citizens, including a member of the ruling family They also call on the National Human Rights Committee in Qatar to urgently communicate with the security authorities to lift the arbitrary travel ban
The undersigned human rights organizations denounce the Qatari authorities’ blatant disregard for the repeated appeals to lift the travel ban imposed on a number of Qatari citizens, including a member of the ruling family, and to stop the illegal arbitrary measures that prevent some of them from disposing of their money.
The organizations, moreover, call on Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee of the State of Qatar, to pressure the Qatari security authorities to promptly lift the arbitrary travel ban and urge them to abide by their international obligations, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, guaranteeing the right to freedom of movement, to which Qatar has recently acceded.
The signatory organizations call on the UN Special Rapporteurs and the international community, to urgently intervene and communicate with the Qatari authorities in order to immediately stop the crackdown, intimidation, harassment and travel bans imposed on these citizens, and to drop the baseless charges levelled against them.
On April 18, 2016, Saoud Khalifa Al Thani, a member of the extended Qatari ruling family, was placed under travel ban by the National Command Center, a branch of the Ministry of Interior. The Qatari government has taken arbitrary measures against him, including preventing him from attending the periodic family meeting that takes place in the Amiri Diwan office in the presence of the Emir.
In early 2018, in a post on his social media page, Sheikh Saud urged the Qatari authorities to allow him to travel abroad in order to receive treatment, but the authorities did not respond to his request so far.
On 1 April 2019, Saoud AlThani filed a lawsuit contesting the state action, which was successful in inducing the Ministry of Interior to revoke its travel ban on 8 May 2019. However, at the same time, the State Security Bureau imposed on him a separate travel ban, effective 2 May 2019, which according to a Qatari court judgment is based on unspecified “state security” grounds. The authorizing statute cited is Article 7 of the State Security Bureau Law (originally passed as Act No. 5 of 2003, since amended), which authorizes the head of the Bureau to “order that a suspect be prevented from leaving the country” instate-security cases.
The Qatari citizen and businessman, Abdullah Ahmed Al Mohannadi, who was arbitrarily detained for three weeks over criticizing the absence of the rule of law and government corruption, especially the Ministry of Interior, was placed under travel ban since 2013. In addition, for no given reason, the Qatari authorities have frozen his private and commercial funds. Although the Qatari authorities had closed his case, he was still banned from traveling for nearly seven years.
On January 8, 2017, human rights defender and former Minister of Justice, Dr. Najeeb Muhammad Al-Nuaimi, was placed under travel ban, due to his opposition and critical views of the Qatari government and its policies, which he expressed peacefully through social media. Al-Nuaimi has reportedly received the unexplained travel ban via a text message sent to him from the Public Prosecution’s office in Doha. The Qatari executive authorities continue to arbitrarily prevent Al-Nuaimi from traveling, despite the issuance of a court order on June 4, 2017, to cancel the unjustified and groundless travel ban. This indeed shows that his punishment was merely an act of reprisal for his anti-government political position and views, which is a clear violation of his right to freedom of opinion and expression, or of practicing his work as a human rights lawyer.
Within the same framework, citizen Muhammad Yusef Al-Sulaiti was arbitrarily arrested, and banned from traveling without giving any reason, according to local laws that restrict basic freedoms and that are inconsistent with international charters and agreements signed by Qatar, especially the amended Law No. 5 of 2003 on the establishment of the State Security Service. Al-Sulaiti was detained for five months and he remained banned from traveling even after his release. Only two days after a human rights organization sent a complaint to the United Nations, the State Security Bureau has arrested him again from his home, and until this moment, Al-Sulaiti is still under incommunicado detention, and his Twitter account has been deleted.
Human rights organizations assure that the arbitrary measures adopted by Qatar against the four Qatari citizens violate the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Qatari Constitution, the international human rights law as well as Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Qatar ratified under Decree No. 40 of 2018. In addition, the arbitrary travel ban imposed by the Qatari government blatantly violates the Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil Rights and Politics.
In light of the above, the undersigned organizations demand the United Nations to intervene quickly and pressure the Qatari authorities to put an end to all the arbitrary measures taken against the four Qatari citizens, including lifting the travel bans imposed against them and releasing those arbitrarily detained. They also demand the Qatari authorities to amend the vaguely-worded laws that contain loose terms, which are constantly used to restrict basic freedoms and crackdown opposition, and to adhere to its international obligations. Among these laws that need to be amended, are the amended Law No. 5 of 2003 on the establishment of the State Security Service and the Law on Community Protection, for their clear contradiction with the provisions of international conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Maat for Peace, Development & Human Rights – Egypt Ayman Okeil
Arab Penal Reform Organization – Switzerland Mohamed Zaree
Arab European Center for Human Rights and International Law – Norway Ahmed Ghazi
Amnesty International Saleh Al Harith
The International Observatory to Monitor and Document Human Rights Violations – Argentina Abdel Aziz Tarekji
Monitor Association for Human Rights – Lebanon Khaled Al-Sayed
The National Association for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms – Egypt Waleed Farouk
The Arab Commission for Human Rights – France Violette Dagher
Hemaia Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Development – Egypt Barakat Al-Damrani