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16 February 2019 10:17 am

End human rights violations that are a result of blockade, says NHRC

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Doha

His Excellency (H.E.) Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Dr Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri has urged the French government and parliament to include the violations resulting from the blockade imposed on Qatar on the agenda of meetings between French officials and their counterparts from the blockade countries, while calling for a strong partnership with the NHRC to defend and promote human rights in Qatar and the world, parallel to the strategic dialogue announced between Doha and Paris.

This came during two meetings held by Dr Al Marri here with HE President of the French National Assembly (Parliament) Richard Ferrand, and HE Minister of Justice of France Nicole Belloubet.

His Excellency also briefed the French officials on the latest repercussions of the blockade imposed on the State of Qatar and the efforts of the NHRC to end the violations that the countries of the blockade continue to commit. He noted that after June 5, 2017, most of the complaints reported to the headquarters of the NHRC or via hotlines and other means of communication were mainly those committed by the blockade countries concerning the rights of citizens and residents of Qatar.

He also presented a brief overview of the human rights situation in Qatar and the latest efforts by the Qatari government in issuing legislations and reforming laws on workers' rights and human rights in general, in cooperation with the NHRC, as well as the ratification of the International Covenants on Human Rights.

During his meeting with the President of the French National Assembly, HE Chairman of the NHRC demanded that the repercussions of the humanitarian crisis be discussed during the regular meetings of the French National Assembly, especially during the hearing sessions for the French ministers to discuss the human rights situation in the world and France's efforts to stop violations which take place in different parts of the world, out of the importance attached by France to the protection of human rights.

Dr Al Marri stressed that the continuation of the Gulf political crisis cannot in any way be a reason to deepen the violations of human rights and disregard the continued suffering of thousands of separated families and students expelled from the universities of the blockade countries as a result of the discriminatory procedures affecting citizens and residents of Qatar.

In his meeting with the French Minister of Justice, Dr Al Marri stressed the need to strengthen the partnership between the NHRC, the French Ministry of Justice and various French institutions and bodies in the field of human rights development and promotion. He noted the signing of several agreements and memoranda of understanding over the past years, such as the Ombudsman of the French Republic.

His Excellency praised the launch of the strategic dialogue between the State of Qatar and the French Republic, hoping that the political dialogue will be accompanied by a continuous dialogue and a strong partnership in the field of human rights, exchange of experiences and expertise between the governments of the two countries and human rights bodies and institutions.

He stressed the important role that the French government can play in addressing the human rights violations resulting from the Gulf crisis, calling for taking up the serious violations of human rights during meetings of the French government and officials with the blockade countries, in line with the principles laid down by the French Republic (Freedom, Justice, Equality) and France's unwavering commitment to defend human rights in various regions of the world as an important part of achieving security, peace and stability in the world, as stated by French President Emmanuel Macaron in his recent visit to the Middle East region.

In this context, Dr Al Marri called on the French government to take action to put an end to the politicization of its long-standing educational and cultural institutions, citing the expulsion of Qatari students from the Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi, as well as the distortion of the geographical facts of a geographical map in the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, calling on the French government to take effective action to protect its educational and cultural values, including asking the officials of the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi to redress the Qatari students who were forcibly and arbitrarily expelled under the pretext of a political dispute.

Dr Al Marri said that western governments are not required to take sides in the blockade crisis, but are required to defend the rights of the victims and to remain faithful to their principles and positions in defending human rights that are publicly violated, stressing the need to champion the rights of victims of serious violations of human rights, and to resolve all differences between the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

This came during a lecture delivered by Dr Al Marri at the invitation of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris on the developments in the blockade of Qatar, in the presence of a group of ambassadors, officials, academics, businessmen and representatives of the French media.

The seminar, which was moderated by Vice-President of the Institute Dominique David, saw discussions by French experts on the Middle East and the Gulf region, notably Ambassador Bertrand Besancenot, the former French president's envoy to follow up the Kuwaiti mediation efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis.

He noted that despite the various international efforts that have been made, they failed to reach an end to the humanitarian crisis and the suffering of the victims after about 20 months because of the intransigence of the countries of the blockade. The UAE has not complied with the decision of the International Court of Justice. He added that the NHRC recorded 745 complaints submitted by citizens and residents in Qatar concerning violations and harassment committed by Abu Dhabi authorities.

In response to a question on the efforts of the National Human Rights Committee to resolve the humanitarian crisis in contact with human rights organizations in the countries of the blockade, His Excellency said since the first day, the NHRC contacted officials of human rights organizations of the blockade countries and asked them to urge with their governments to stop violations of the rights of families and individuals. but they did not respond and that is why we sought the help of the United Nations, international human rights organizations and some governments, all of which have asserted their refusal to take civilians hostage in the political dispute. He added the Committee is still waiting for western governments to take decisive positions and move to protect human rights away from the fate of political crisis.

Asked about the reasons for the failure of the GCC system to resolve the crisis, he said there are mechanisms in the GCC to resolve crises and protect human rights, but they have not been respected or activated by the countries of the blockade.

On his assessment of France's position towards the blockade, he appreciated the statements made by French officials who confirmed their country's rejection of any measures against citizens and residents and violations of human rights, adding that he is still waiting for more pressure on the governments of the blockade countries to stop their violations of human rights. The West is trying to balance its positions towards parties to the Gulf crisis, stressing that the Committee was not asking them to support one party against another, but to champion the rights of victims and remain faithful to their principles and positions in defending human rights that are violated publicly.

Asked about the crisis and the chances of a possible solution, the NHRC Chairman said the political crisis may be prolonged, but maintained that the NHRC rejects any prolonging of gross violations of human rights. (QNA)