Geneva - The Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) refuted allegations made by Qatar's National Human Rights Commission about what it described as violations of Qatari rights and alleged violations of international law by regional countries.
The Federation, which includes more than 40 human rights organizations, bodies and associations from around the Arab world, issued a report revealing evidence of human rights violations committed in Qatar.
The AFHR called for a UN review of the report which was presented on Thursday by Dr Ahmed Hamli, chairman of AFHR to Vladlen Stefanov, Director of National Institutions, Civil Society Organizations and Technical Cooperation at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The 24-page document refutes the allegations made by the Qatari National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding the Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain imposed boycott on the country.
"The report is based on the study of international conventions, legislation, national regulations, and ministerial decisions taken in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain," al-Hamli said after the report was delivered to the UN official.
Al Hamli expressed his surprise at the fact that the Qatari Committee has violated the most important principles of the work of national human rights committees, which is "to play a crucial role in supporting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards on the ground in the countries to which they belong."
With regard to the insistence of the Qatari committee that the boycott is an illegal blockade, the report said that the boycott is radically different from a blockade.
Al-Hamli explained that the boycott "is a cut off of diplomatic and economic relations by a state or group of countries with another country, a sovereign right in the event that the latter stirs up unrest and prejudice to the security and stability of the states" .
The Qatari human rights commission says the boycott has harmed Qatari citizens’ right to education, but the report warned that the right to education according to international charters is a human right for everyone in the country where they live.
"Therefore, the NHRC's demand that the regional governments to provide education to Qatari citizens has no legal basis in international charters. The Qatari government has the obligation to provide education to its citizens and make it available to all," he said.
Confessions of an intelligence officer
The report also refuted Qatar's allegations of violations of freedom of opinion and expression in the three states in terms of the attitude towards Doha and its policies.
Al-Hamli added that a UAE Attorney General statement on June 7, cited by the Qatari Committee, was made as a warning to social users to not misuse the sites to harm the UAE and its leaders. He added that the statements were also to warn users of complicity on social media with Qatari security services and support the approach the Qatari government chooses for extremist ideology and terrorism.
The report includes confessions of a Qatari intelligence officer Hamad Ali Mohammed al-Hammadi, 33, who was arrested in the UAE in 2015.
Al-Hammadi in his confessions openly acknowledged the destructive role adopted by the Qatari government over the years to target the UAE and various countries in the region.
He explained how through social networking sites Qatari security services targeted the UAE and its leaders.
"Is this the freedom of opinion and expression that the National Human Rights Commission of Qatar seeks to ensure its protection and maintenance?" al-Hamli said.
With regard to freedom of the press and expression, the Arab Federation states in its report that "through field monitoring and fact-finding, it found that the three countries did not compel any journalists, media professionals and Qataris to resign."
"On the contrary, many journalists from the three countries have voluntarily resigned from their jobs in Qatar to support their governments' efforts to root out the sources of terrorism and extremism and were provided suitable positions upon their return.”
1633 Qatari pilgrims
The report addressed allegations of restrictions on the practice of religious rites.
According to the NHRC, Saudi authorities have prevented Qatari pilgrims from performing Umrah after the boycott was established and forced pilgrims to leave Saudi Arabia.
The AFHR said in its report that "these allegations have no basis and the AFHR praises the efforts of the Kingdom in facilitating services for pilgrims from different countries around the world”.
According the AFHR the General Presidency of the Holy Mosques’ Affairs (GPHMA) said in a statement that it received 1,633 Qatari Umrah pilgrims despite the boycott and that what is being circulated on social media is nothing but fabrications against Saudi Arabia.
The report shows that the Qatari Committee "showed a clear bias towards the Qatari government against Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain and did not fulfill the tasks required by Qatar’s Law No. 17 of 2010 to organize the National Commission for Human Rights based on the Paris Principles on National Human Rights Institutions."
The Paris Principles do not require national institutions to perform quasi-judicial functions or to address complaints or petitions by plaintiffs against violations of their rights, as the Committee has done.
Under these principles, the role of such institutions is to seek an amicable settlement through conciliation or a binding decision on the basis of confidentiality and to inform the petitioners of their rights and remedies Available to them and facilitate access to them, the AFHR report read.
The report argues that by boycotting Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have acted within their sovereignty rights and taken preventive and protective measures to ensure their territories’ security and stability as well as the protection of regional and global security in the face of extremism and terrorism.
The AFHR added that it has requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate and re-categorize the NHRC by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.
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