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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 7 May 2014 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Qatar
Represented by 32-member, delegation headed by H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim AL-THANI, Minister’s Assistant for International Cooperation affairs of Qatar.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Qatar page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Cuba, India and Italy.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Qatar page on the UPR Extranet **)

  • The promotion and protection of human rights was a strategic choice for the State of Qatar, as emphasized through the Qatar National Vision 2030, which included topics relating to the issues of human rights in the areas of education, health, environment, rights of expatriate works, women’s empowerment and child rights, as well as the National Development Strategy 2011 – 2016;
  • Many of the recommendations presented during the first review have already been implemented or were in the process of being implemented; such as the amendment of the Criminal Code by the introduction of an explicit definition of torture, consistent with the Convention Against Torture;
  • The Act of 2011 on combating human trafficking was an important step in the context of Qatar’s efforts to combat human trafficking and to protect victims of trafficking crimes;
  • The ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions reflected a political will that sought to disseminate the values of tolerance and freedom of thought and expression;
  • Since the submission of its initial report, the State attached increasing attention to human rights and has taken numerous legislative, legal, administrative and other measures to realize human rights and to provide sufficient means to better integrate them through social development;
  • Qatar also attached great importance to international cooperation took the initiative of offering assistance for development to developing countries around the world. In 2011 and 2012, they had provided humanitarian and development assistance amount to over US$ 3 Billion;
  • Qatar had put forth a number of initiatives including Protecting Education in Insecurity and Armed Conflict; an international initiative to protect, support and promote the right to education in crisis, conflict and war zones or zones threatened by crisis, conflict and war;
  • Qatar received a visit from the Special Rapporteurs on the human rights of and on the independence of judges and lawyers, in November 2013 and January 2014, respectively. In 2011 Qatar hosted regional stakeholder consultations by the Independent Expert on foreign debt;
  • Qatar has recorded unprecedented rates of growth and economic recovery and had been given a prestigious first rank among the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, ranking 18th on the global scale by the World Economic Forum Human Capital Report 2013;
  • Although Qatar made progress in promoting and protecting human rights in terms of legislation, institutions and awareness, there remained some temporary remaining obstacles, such as the unprecedented population increase of over 100 % in recent years;
  • Qatar highly appreciated foreign workers’ contributions and considered them real partners in the development and advancement project pursued by the State. The authorities were currently conducting a comprehensive review of labour laws and were also considering a draft on domestic workers’ regulating mechanisms. Moreover the law on entry, exit, residence and sponsorship of migrants, as well as the Labour Code, were presently under review;
  • The State also commissioned and independent international office to review all expatriates workers-related laws and procedures, to compare them with global best practices and to come up with recommendations that would enhance the efforts of Qatar aimed at improving the professional and living conditions of these workers. The office presented its final report on 30 April

Participants

In total 84States participated in the dialogue:  33 HRC members and 51 observers  (Statements available on Qatar page on the UPR Extranet **).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The creation of the National Human Rights Committee;
  • The extension of a standing invitation for UN Special Procedures;
  • Progress made to advance women’s rights and the accession to CEDAW;
  • Efforts to combat human trafficking and the Foundation for Combatting Human Trafficking;
  • Steps taken to improve the situation for migrant workers;
  • The National Development Strategy 2011-2016 and support towards international cooperation

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Efforts taken to protect the rights of migrant workers;
  • The kafala sponsorship system applied to foreign workers;
  • Measures taken to combat domestic violence and combat human trafficking;
  • Steps taken to end discrimination women and empower women;
  • Efforts to promote and protect the freedom of expression;
  • Progress made in combatting torture and steps towards abolishing the death penalty.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Qatar.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To step up efforts to protect the rights of migrant workers and to fight against exploitation, ill treatment and abuse of migrant workers by their employers;
  • To abolish or reform the kafala sponsorship system, removing the requirement for foreign workers to obtain permission before leaving Qatar or moving jobs; To establish a timetable for reform of the system of sponsorship-based employment;
  • To reform Labour Laws to ensure domestic workers were legally protected and to improve the enforcement of these laws ensuring the rights of foreign workers;
  • To continue to increase awareness about the human rights of migrants; To ensure the rights of migrant workers to join unions;
  • To pursue measures to combat domestic violence; To strengthen efforts to prevent violence against women and ensure accountability and prevent reprisals;
  • To continue efforts to combat human trafficking and with the implementation of the National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking;
  • To continue efforts to end discrimination women and take measures to modify laws that made it possible to discriminate against women;
  • To further promote gender equality by empowering women to play a greater role in social and economic development; to take steps to enhance women’s awareness of their rights;
  • To fully implement the legal guarantees for freedom of expression; To take immediate measures to ensure that national regulations concerning the Internet guarantees freedom of expression; To adopt a new media law that respected freedom of expression;
  • To consider an official moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolishing it;
  • To continue the implementation of the National Development Strategy 2011-2016 and to pursue implementing the Qatar National Vision 2030; To continue improving social security measures to better protect vulnerable groups;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, ICCPR and its OPs, ICESCR, the OPCAT, the Rome Statute on the ICC, the OP to CEDAW, the 3rd OP to the CRC, the Convention on enforced disappearances, ILO Conventions 189 (domestics workers), 29 (forced labour) and 169 (indigenous) and the CRPD

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Qatar is scheduled to take place on Friday, 9 May 2014.

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

Media contacts: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org
                       Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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