Posts Tagged ‘Qatar’

Qatar: where is human rights defender Noof Al-Maadeed?

January 4, 2022

A screenshot of Noof Al-Maadeed from her YouTube video entitled “The Return of #Noof_AlMaadeed to Qatar 2021”, posted on October 6, 2021

Khalid Ibrahim, executive director of he Gulf Center for Human Rights posted on 29 December 2021 the case of Noof Al-Maadeed, a 23-year-old Qatari woman.

When she faced domestic violence from members of her family, including her father, and government institutions failed to provide her with any protection, she fled her country to Britain after using her father’s phone without his knowledge to obtain permission to travel. In a television interview on August 4, 2020, she spoke of her November 26, 2019 escape from Qatar to Britain, via Ukraine.

Upon arriving in Britain, she applied for asylum. During her stay in Britain, Al-Maadeed introduced herself as a defender of Qatari women’s rights and explained how male guardianship prevents women from working or traveling without a male family member’s consent, as well as how women victims of domestic violence are left with little protection.

Al-Maadeed withdrew her application for asylum in Britain after receiving assurances from the Qatari authorities that she would be protected if she returned to her home country. On October 6, this year, Al-Maadeed posted on her Instagram account a video in which she explained the details of her return from London on September 30 to the capital, Doha, where she arrived the following day.

What happened next is incomprehensible. Qatari authorities, who pledged to protect her, as it should with to all citizens, reneged on all their promises and left her alone trying to survive domestic abuse. In a video posted on her Twitter account on October 12, Al-Maadeed said that she had been subjected to three failed assassination attempts by her family. She also described her father’s coming into the lobby of the hotel where she was staying, despite being one of her main opponents and the reason for her running away from home. Perhaps the following tweet, dated October 12, honestly sums up the torments she suffered upon her return: https://platform.twitter.com/embed

My family, and those who I count as my own, want to slaughter me.

Shortly thereafter, she posted the following tweet: “Sheikh Tamim is the only one who can stop the danger to my life with his own hands.” On October 13, Al-Maadeed completely disappeared from social media, and her whereabouts have not yet been known. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, on whom Al-Maadeed relied for protection and pleaded for support, was not able to provide the necessary protection for a citizen who did not commit any violation and voluntarily returned to her country based on many promises from the authorities that they’ll keep her safe.

Since her disappearance, there have been conflicting reports, with regards to what has happened to the 23-year-old. According to some reports, Al-Maadeed was killed by her family, while others reported her forcible detention in a psychiatric hospital under heavy sedation, Meanwhile, the Qatari government refuses to provide documented information to prove that she is alive, which raises many suspicions.

The Gulf Center for Human Rights cannot confirm any of the above-mentioned reports but holds the authorities, who have pledged but failed to protect Noof Al-Maadeed, responsible for any harm done to her. At present, all information indicates that Al-Maadeed is facing serious risk to her life and freedom. If not killed, then it is a fact that she may be facing a lengthy incommunicado detention, which puts her life at imminent risk.

The GCHR, once again calls on the international community, particularly UN institutions, and governments with influence in Qatar—including members of the European Union—to take immediate action to pressure the Qatari authorities to ensure that Al-Maadeed is safe and can live freely in Qatar.

The government of Qatar cannot continue to ignore international opinion that is searching for the truth, and its absolute silence will be a sure condemnation, as it bears full responsibility for preserving the safety of its citizens, including Nouf Al-Maadeed.

Internet Censorship 2021: A Global Map of Internet Restrictions

October 19, 2021

On October 12 I referred the report Freedom on the Net [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/10/12/report-freedom-on-the-net-2021/ and on 24 April to the latest RSF report [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/04/24/world-press-freedom-index-2021-is-out/]. Now my attention was drawn to another tool to measure internet censorship:

Nearly 60 percent of the world’s population (4.66 billion people) uses the internet. It’s our source of instant information, entertainment, news, and social interactions.

But where in the world can citizens enjoy equal and open internet access – if anywhere?

In this exploratory study, our researchers have conducted a country-by-country comparison to see which countries impose the harshest internet restrictions and where citizens can enjoy the most online freedom. This includes restrictions or bans for torrenting, pornography, social media, and VPNs, and restrictions or heavy censorship of political media. This year, we have also added the restriction of messaging/VoIP apps.

Although the usual culprits take the top spots, a few seemingly free countries rank surprisingly high. With ongoing restrictions and pending laws, our online freedom is at more risk than ever.

We scored each country on six criteria. Each of these is worth two points aside from messaging/VoIP apps which is worth one (this is due to many countries banning or restricting certain apps but allowing ones run by the government/telecoms providers within the country). The country receives one point if the content—torrents, pornography, news media, social media, VPNs, messaging/VoIP apps—is restricted but accessible, and two points if it is banned entirely. The higher the score, the more censorship. https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/IBnNS/3/

The worst countries for internet censorship

  1. North Korea and China (11/11) – No map of online censorship would be complete without these two at the top of the list. There isn’t anything either of them doesn’t heavily censor thanks to their iron grip over the entire internet. Users are unable to use western social media, watch porn, or use torrents or VPNs*. And all of the political media published in the country is heavily censored and influenced by the government. Both also shut down messaging apps from abroad, forcing residents to use ones that have been made (and are likely controlled) within the country, e.g. WeChat in China. Not only does WeChat have no form of end-to-end encryption, the app also has backdoors that enable third parties to access messages.
  2. Iran (10/11): Iran blocks VPNs (only government-approved ones are permitted, which renders them almost useless) but doesn’t completely ban torrenting. Pornography is also banned and social media is under increasing restrictions. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are all blocked with increasing pressures to block other popular social media sites. Many messaging apps are also banned with authorities pushing domestic apps and services as an alternative. Political media is heavily censored.
  3. Belarus, Qatar, Syria, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and the UAE (8/11): Turkmenistan, Belarus, and the UAE all featured in our “worst countries” breakdown in 2020.  But this year they are joined by Qatar, Syria, and Thailand. All of these countries ban pornography, have heavily censored political media, restrict social media (bans have also been seen in Turkmenistan), and restrict the use of VPNs. Thailand saw the biggest increase in censorship, including the introduction of an online porn ban which saw 190 adult websites being taken down. This included Pornhub (which featured as one of the top 20 most visited websites in the country in 2019).

https://comparite.ch/internetcensorshipmap

Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismail refuses $250,000 ‘prize’ offered by Qatar

July 26, 2020

On 26.July 2020 Jam News comes the interesting news that the Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija ismayilova has been offered a $250,000 cash award from Qatar’s Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Centre. After looking into the activities of the centre and discovering the fund was created by the emir of Qatar, who had closed the center for investigative journalism in Qatar, Khadija Ismail declined the award. 

Khadija Ismail

The journalist also added that the reason why the foundation wants to give her the prize is to keep famous journalists under its influence with this award: “Why me? They have been distributing the prize for three years, not a single famous person has yet agreed to receive the prize. It is the famous winners who legitimize such initiatives. I don’t want to sound immodest, but a friend explained to me that they need my name.

I answered them. I said, thank you, I investigated the issue and do not believe in your sincerity, and I do not sell my reputation for money.

Khadija Ismail is engaged in investigative journalism. She was arrested in 2014 and imprisoned for seven years and six months on charges of tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship. On May 25, 2016, the Supreme Court changed her sentence to a suspended sentence of three and a half years and released her. Now the journalist has a ban on leaving the country. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/24/azeri-journalist-khadija-ismayilova-not-allowed-to-come-and-pick-up-her-award-in-stockholm/]

By the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, in this case, the rights of the journalist, protected by Articles 5 (liberty and security of person), 6 (fair trial), 10 (freedom of expression) and 18 (limits on the use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention were violated.For these violations, the Azerbaijani government as a whole must pay the journalist compensation to the amount of 25,000 euros, but the journalist says that she has not yet received this money.

https://jam-news.net/khadija-ismail-journalist-refuses-prize/

IF Qatar has to share World Cup 2022, FIFA’s ethical standards must apply

March 12, 2019

A coalition of human rights groups (such as Amnesty International, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Trade Union Congress, Transparency International and the World Players Association) has sent an open letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino to confirm that any country chosen to share World Cup 2022 games with Qatar will meet world football’s new ethical standards. The possible expansion of the next World Cup from 32 to 48 teams is top of the agenda at a meeting of the FIFA Council in Miami on Friday, with Infantino keen on an idea that would mean Qatar having to share the World Cup with other nations in the Middle East.

That idea would need Qatar’s approval, which is far from certain as it has been locked in a bitter diplomatic dispute with Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since June 2017, but the more neutral Kuwait and Oman have been suggested as possible co-hosts.

Experts on workers’ rights in the region have been highly critical of the controversial decision to award the World Cup to Qatar in December 2010 and are now equally concerned about the prospect of one or more countries in the region having to build stadiums and upgrade infrastructure in a hurry. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/03/fifas-second-report-on-human-rights-misses-sustainable-approach/]

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/international/fifa-human-rights-qatar-world-cup-2022-gianni-infantino-kuwait-oman-bahrain-egypt-saudi-arabia-a8818816.html

FIFA’s second report on human rights misses sustainable approach

December 3, 2018

FIFA’s Human Rights Advisory Board, an independent panel with a mandate to look into how FIFA tackles its human rights issues, published its second report in November 2018. (How independence is to be understood in the context of FIFA is perhaps shown by what happened to its Governance Committee: former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and others resigned in May 2017 from FIFA’s governance committee (which is not the human rights committee) saying that their independence was undercut and holding out no hope for internal reform [see: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/dec/21/our-sin-take-task-fifa-seriously and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/02/fifa-governance-committee-starts-dealing-with-a-human-rights-policy/])

The report covered the period from October 2017 to September 2018, and while it highlights progress it also shows soccer’s governing body still has a lot of work to do. The advisory board only began its work in March 2017, and described human rights as “still in the relatively early stages of being embedded in FIFA’s culture,” acknowledging that past decisions and contracts make it hard to deal with human rights issues. That can be seen by the large number of recommendations involving the Russia 2018 World Cup and the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Of the advisory board’s six recommendations for Qatar 2022, FIFA still has work to do in two areas: using its leverage to try and improve the ‘kafala’ labor system so that it is more in line with workers’ rights, and encouraging companies linked to World Cup-related employment to do more to meet international human rights standards. The focus on World cups misses out on the same issues at the Club World Cup which takes place in the UAE in December 2018.

The human rights advisory board’s existence appears in some respects to be a reaction to the criticism FIFA received over the decision to award Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup, but the World Cup is far bigger than just the stadiums, and ..FIFA’s narrow focus on stadium workers means it misses the chance to create a long-term positive World Cup legacy in regards to human rights.

The report highlighted that FIFA “needs to invest in a sustainable approach” to human rights rather than just provide superficial fixes. Improvements that are made when issues are in the spotlight are often fluid and can be rolled back once the world’s attention swings to another issue.

One issue that the advisory board brought up, and which will be addressed in more detail in the next report, is how women in Iran have been banned from attending men’s soccer matches.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/06/27/new-global-center-for-sport-and-human-rights-created-to-address-abuses/

Complaint against Qatar National Human Rights Commission rejected

August 21, 2017

Perhaps a bit of a side-show in the ongoing conflict between Qatar and it Arab neighbors, but interesting to note that the International Accreditation Committee of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions has rejected the complaint submitted by the ‘siege countries’ against the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC). The International Accreditation Committee has underlined that, since the beginning of the Gulf crisis, the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) had played its part in the protection and promotion of human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles that govern the work of national human rights institutions. [the countries had filed a joint complaint on 7 August 2017 against the National Human Rights Committee at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as the secretariat of the International Accreditation Committee, and also as a permanent observer to the Accreditation Committee of the Alliance. In their complaint to the Accreditation Committee, the siege countries requested that appropriate action be taken to freeze the membership of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in the list of national human rights institutions, and called for a reclassification of the Committee’s A rank and downgrade and review of all activities of the NHRC before and during the crisis to consider it conformity with its mandate in accordance with the Paris Principles.]

In a press statement, the Chairman of the Qatari National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri said this decision is a remedy for the human rights victims of the siege and support for their cause, and a victory not only for the NHRC but also for all national human rights institutions and human rights defenders in the world, as well as a testimony of pride for the NHRC , and an affirmation of its independence and the credibility of its work. ….Dr Al Marri also called on civil society organizations in the siege countries to cooperate with the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in addressing the violations and the disastrous humanitarian situation facing the citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) as a result of the siege, especially on mixed families, affected students, owners and investors, as well as the neutralization of human rights of any political differences. Dr Al Marri stressed that the NHRC is continuing its work against the violations resulting from the siege and will intensify its efforts at regional and international forums to redress the victims within the framework of its jurisdiction and in accordance with the Paris Principles.

Source:

Siege nations’ complaint against NHRC rejected – The Peninsula Qatar

https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/06/12/nchr-calls-respect-qatari-residents-rights-amid-diplomatic-tensions/

Qatar extradited human rights defender Otaibi to Saudi Arabia ignoring Norway’s grant of asylum

June 1, 2017
IMG_1127
On 31 May 2017 ALQST reported that Qatar has extradited the prominent Saudi human rights defender Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Otaibi to Saudi Arabia, even after Norway accepted his application for political asylum.  Otaibi was arrested at Doha International Airport on Wednesday 24 May, 2017 as he was about to travel with his wife to Norway, on travel documents provided by the Norwegians.  Days later, on Sunday, 28 May 28 3 a.m., Otaibi was deported overland to Saudi Arabia via the Salwa border crossing and delivered to the Saudi authorities, who sent him with an escort of Saudi security vehicles to the Dammam Prisons Department.
For more details see the piece referred to below:

Read the rest of this entry »

Arab region, behind the violations a glimmer of hope? Qatar regional meeting and a Arab League manual

January 11, 2016
 The Arab region is these days mostly known or its turmoil and attacks on human rights defenders. Still there are some more quiet developments that could over time improve the situation. Here are two of them” (1) a conference in Qatar and (2) a new manual The League of Arab States: Human Rights Standards and MechanismsRead the rest of this entry »

Human rights investigators in Qatar are now confirmed as detained

September 8, 2014

On 6 September 2014, the Foreign Ministry of Qatar finally confirmed the arrest and detention of Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev, who were at first feared disappeared: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/human-rights-investigators-in-qatar-being-followed-by-the-police-here-looks-like-they-will-give-me-troubles-now/

[Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev are British citizens working to investigate the conditions of migrant labourers who are constructing facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.]

Human rights investigators in Qatar: “being followed by the police here. Looks like they will give me troubles now”

September 4, 2014
Two British human rights workers investigating the plight of migrant labourers constructing facilities for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup have disappeared and are feared to be held incommunicado by the Gulf state’s security forces reports the Independent. Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev vanished on Sunday 31 August after sending texts to colleagues saying they were being followed by plain clothes police officers and feared they arrest as they tried to leave Qatar on flights that day. The two men, who are of Nepalese extraction and both carry British passports, had been in the Qatari capital Doha to record interviews with Nepali labourers and investigate conditions in accommodation camps. They were working in cooperation with Nepalese diplomats in the city.

The Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD), employing the men, said it believed its employees were being held by the Qatari police and were at risk of maltreatment or torture: “We are deeply concerned that our employees, both British citizens, may have been subjected to enforced disappearance and are currently at risk of torture.”

[Qatar has been strongly criticised for the working conditions of its 1.4m migrant labourers as it races to spend £123bn on new infrastructure ahead of the 2022 World Cup. More than 400 Nepalese, the vast majority of them in Qatar to work on construction projects, died in the Gulf state between January 2012 and this May – a death rate of one worker per day. Qatar has insisted that none of the deaths occurred on World Cup sites. Qatar has been criticised for routinely holding detainees incommunicado for weeks or months at a time. Amnesty International has described the tactic as “standard practice” and said it can be followed by lengthy further detention without charge or trial.]

 

British human rights investigators disappear in Qatar, after being followed by plain clothes police – Middle East – World – The Independent.