GENEVA (2 May 2018) - The Committee against Torture this afternoon concluded its consideration of the third periodic report of Qatar on the efforts made by the State party to implement the provisions of the Convention against Torture.
Introducing the report, Ahmed Hassan Al-Hamadi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, affirmed Qatar’s commitment to work with the Committee against Torture to uphold human rights. A collaborative effort was being made by the State, in conjunction with several ministries, as well as input by the national human rights institution. Qatari law criminalized any act tantamount to torture. In addition to this jurisprudence, there were also moral commitments set in place, adhering to the religious customs in Qatar. The Government was also committed to protecting individuals who were vulnerable to torture in the context of extradition and ensured this with the addition of a non-extradition clause to the Constitution. Qatar was also working to guarantee better rights to foreign workers and had set up a human rights action plan to combat human trafficking.
In the interactive dialogue that followed, Committee Experts noted Qatar’s reservations on articles one, 16, 21 and 22 of the Convention and asked it to withdraw them. They asked if Qatar would ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention. An Expert noted that there was no mention in Qatari law stating the explicit prohibition of torture and superior orders had been used as an excuse to use torture. Superior orders should not be used as a pretext for torture. Experts noted in several instances the disappointing absence of statistics on Qatar’s efforts in the area of human rights and the elimination of torture. There were also a number of issues of concern related to the kafala system, including the removal of passports when foreign workers entered the State, the inability of those workers to leave the country and the subsequent stripping of their labour rights. There was also a question as to the use of corporal punishment, including flogging, which still appeared to be in use in the case of minors in detention.
In his concluding remarks, the head of the Qatari delegation said that there was political will to implement the provisions of the Convention and Qatar would continue to cooperate with Special Procedures, treaty bodies and this Committee to promote and protect human rights.
Jens Modvig, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their participation and wished them a safe trip back to Qatar.
The delegation of Qatar included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Public Prosecution, Ministry of Interior, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 3 May to conclude its consideration of the sixth periodic report (CAT/C/CZE/6) of the Czech Republic.
The third periodic report of Qatar can be read here: CAT/C/QAT/3.
Presentation of the Report
AHMED HASSAN AL-HAMADI, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, affirmed Qatar’s commitment to work with the Committee against Torture to uphold human rights. The dialogue would be a further opportunity to improve Qatar’s outcomes and uphold human rights overall. The report submitted by the State was a result of coordination between all stakeholders in Qatar. A national committee to review the Committee’s recommendations had been established with input from the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor General. The Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Health had also contributed to the report’s creation following the guidelines issued by the Committee. The national human rights institution had also had input in the construction of the report. Qatar had been working to implement the recommendations of the Committee and had set in motion awareness raising campaigns to promote the Convention in the national setting.
The Criminal Procedures Code now criminalized any act tantamount to torture. There had also been moral commitments set in place, which were embedded in religious as well as social customs found in Qatar. The State party viewed the protection of individuals as more than protecting them from torture; the protection of individuals from any degrading treatment was a duty of the Government. The Qatari legal regime ensured the due oversight of legislation and instruments that could receive complaints against officials concerning acts of torture. On the international level, the Government was committed to protecting individuals who were vulnerable to torture by adding a non-extradition clause to the Constitution, to ensure that the extradition of persons to a country where they would be vulnerable to torture would be prevented. On the national level, development strategies had been put in place—such as Qatar 2030—which provided a robust backdrop for human rights in the State.
Qatar was undergoing historic development and wished to ensure blanket coverage with unparalleled efforts being made with regard to prohibiting torture and ill-treatment. Since the 2012 and 2016 constructive dialogues with the Committee, wide-ranging civil and legal reforms had been brought about and integrated stakeholders, who should be genuine partners in the process of reform, continued Mr. Al-Hamadi. The State was committed to promoting and protecting human rights through various institutions.
Foreign workers needed better rights and Qatar was working to guarantee this. All groups that might be at risk of torture were protected, including domestic workers, and Qatar had ratified International Labour Organization Convention 189. A national committee to establish a human rights plan and a committee to combat human rights trafficking had been set up.
Mr. Al-Hamadi said that since 5 June 2016, Qatar had faced a unilateral embargo by countries of the region. Some 3,970 complaints had been filed concerning the right to freedom of work, expression and opinion, health, education, religion and other social freedoms in connection with the separation of families; these violations were being committed by countries that were at the same time aligned with human rights. A systematic analysis of what came about as a result of that embargo showed that it had led to grave human rights violations for those living in Qatar. Despite the embargo, a basic principle to implement all human rights instruments, including the Convention on Torture, would be applied. It was hoped that today’s dialogue would lead to more in-depth discussions to combat torture in Qatar.
Questions by the Country Rapporteurs
ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Qatar, thanked the delegation for the opening statement, which contained a number of reassurances concerning implementation of the large number of previous recommendations from the Committee.
Speaking about the reservations submitted by the State, Mr. Hani said that articles one, 16, 21 and 22 of the Convention needed to be further addressed by the State. The articles in question concerned cruel and inhumane treatment and the reservations about those articles posed a problem for the Committee. Why would those prohibitions be contrary to the religious values of the Qatari State? Further information about steps to be taken by the State to withdraw these reservations would be welcome.
Turning to articles 21 and 22, concerning the lodging of individual complaints and the Optional Protocol, there was no reference to the country’s position on the Protocol. Would Qatar ratify the Protocol? Qatar said it had incorporated the criminalization of torture in the Constitution and Mr. Hani commended the State on the implementation of this recommendation and others. With that said, however, Mr. Hani noted that there was no mention in Qatari law stating the explicit prohibition of torture. He also found superior orders had been used as an excuse to use torture. Superior orders should not be used as a pretext for torture, he said, so would article 48 of the law be reviewed? Qatari criminal law also opened the door to impunity by reducing criminal sentences against those responsible for torture. Reducing sentences for crimes related to torture was expressly against the articles in the Convention.
Regarding the judiciary’s interpretation of the 2004 Criminal Procedures Law, which stated that no victim’s complaint could be lodged after 30 days of a crime committed against them, how did the courts plan on implementing this? The crime of torture was a horrendous crime, so no statute of limitations should be applicable to that crime.
Under Islamic Law, corporal punishment was acceptable in the following crimes, also known as hudud crimes: theft, terrorism, defamation, apostasy, drinking and adultery. Article 1 of the Qatari criminal law applied a double standard with the application of this Islamic law. Corporal penalties were in direct contradiction with the spirit of the Convention. Many Islamic countries had replaced these corporal penalties, some even centuries ago. Could the State provide data concerning those crimes and the people responsible for overseeing their implementation?
The excessive detention of foreign nationals was also a problem as it was shown that there were 10 times more foreign nationals in detention in Qatar than Qataris. What legal safeguards were in place for those persons? Did they have translation services, medical services or information about their rights to contact their consulate available? What would account for this high number of foreign nationals in Qatari prisons?
Concerning the deportation of non-Qatari persons, Mr. Hani asked how the State, since 2012, had revised those exceptional measures and laws that reduced legal safeguards of detainees and opened the door for torture? Torture was always committed in those grey areas, said Mr. Hani, where a detainee was held for a long period of time and not brought before a judge.
Was the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights allowed to visit and observe detention centres in Qatar? What agreement was in place between the Office and the State party?
Mr. Hani also addressed the protection of individuals from refoulement if there was reason to believe they would be subject to torture. He mentioned that the principle of extradition in accordance with article three was not found in the State’s report. Would that principle be included in the law? The Co-Rapporteur also noticed that torture was not under universal jurisdiction in Qatar and that was a problem under articles five to nine of the Convention, which regulated the universal jurisdiction of the Convention. The Committee had asked that the universal jurisdiction be introduced to the Constitution, so when would that take place?
ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Qatar, began by thanking the delegation for their report. She commended the State on its progress in social and economic terms and the fact that it would host the next World Cup reflected the international community’s faith in this young and prosperous country.
The State party had indicated that corporal punishment, or whipping, was prohibited in detention centres. However, when looking at the 2017 concluding observations from the Committee for the Rights of the Child, it was found that minors in detention could be subjected to punitive measures, including beatings. Therefore, the general reservation posed by the State was problematic as the scope of the reservation was not set forth. There was a lack of clarity and precision, she said.
There was also a potential threat to the right to a fair trial, as the judiciary could not rule on a number of affairs. For example, a 2002 law provided an exception to the criminal procedures law, which said that in cases of State security, immorality or public ethics, the authorities could detain the accused based on a report by the Head of State Security. In matters of State security, a detainee could be held for a two-week detention period, which could be extended to six months, and the six months could then be renewed, a sort of black hole of detention.
Concerning training, the State party had provided information on human rights training by institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross or United Nations institutions. Human rights issues were also addressed in police training that was available to both nationals and foreigners. However, the Co-Rapporteur questioned the actual impact of the training on reducing and eliminating torture. What were the effects of the assessment methods on training on the expected outcomes and results?
Ms. Belmir then addressed detainee rights in Qatar. As a general rule, detainees were to be questioned in a timeframe pursuant to the law, given a fair trial within a reasonable amount of time, and the questioning had to be recorded. But considering the long detention times of certain detainees, these rules were more of the exception than the rule.
There was also a question of secret detention, particularly addressed by this Committee, during which there was no possibility for the detainee to speak with a lawyer or have contact with his or her family, which encouraged acts of torture or mistreatment. It was difficult to assess how those being held in secret detention or even solitary confinement were being treated.
Turning to the oversight and inspection of detention centres, Ms. Belmir said that the State party had established a national human rights committee, which held a certain status and implemented the provisions of the Convention. However, visits by the Committee were found to be restricted. There were also issues as to the composition of the Committee, mainly concerning its independence. She asked for more information concerning the cases of detention and recommended that arbitrary detention be avoided. Were allegations of detainee torture immediately investigated by independent organizations? There was a shortfall of statistics relevant to this query. The national human rights commission did provide some information pursuant to detainee torture, with particular regard to domestic workers. In 2007, it was reported that a number of migrants were subjected to humiliating treatment by police just because of their nationality.
Turning to the Department of Labour Relations, it had a number of official functions, including monitoring labour complaints and disputes but also compensation for victims of ill-treatment or torture. There were also references to services provided for migrant workers. As Ms. Belmir stated, however, migrant workers were victims of an outdated state of affairs and recommended that their situations should be rectified and they should be compensated if they fell into a category of mistreatment.
The Country Co-Rapporteur congratulated the State party on its efforts to target and eliminate trafficking of domestic workers, however there were statistics missing as to reparations awarded to them if they were victims of torture or ill-treatment.
Concerning confessions acquired while detainees were under duress or tortured, the jurisprudence to this effect was positive, said Ms. Belmir. But if persons had been ill-treated, was it the case that they could not be tried on the basis of those statements made while under duress? In certain circumstances, it had been found that statements made by individuals forced to confess under torture were used against them in trial.
The continued corporal punishment of minors raised the question of juvenile justice and its application by the State party. To what extent were minors shielded from torture?
Finally, women were often exposed to poor conditions in detention centres, particularly female migrants. Despite the judiciary’s independence, it still practiced discrimination, particularly against non-Qatari nationals. When it came to detention, the separation of detainees was also a problem. Women were separated from men, however their rights to legal council, medical attention and contact with their families were not guaranteed. She asked that the State party provide more information concerning this matter.
BAKHTIYAR TUZMUKHAMEDOV, Associate Rapporteur for Qatar, spoke on the issue of capital punishment. The list of offenses punishable by the deprivation of life was quite extensive, he noted. Did the State party have the tendency to reduce or expand that list? Were there laws other than the Penal Code and the Law on Combatting Terrorism that provided for capital punishment?
Mr. Tuzmukhamedov also addressed the question of executions in Qatar, their frequency, mode of execution and how those sentences were handed down in the courts. If a death penalty was replaced with a less severe punishment, would the latter be life imprisonment or a calculable period?
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert mentioned a specific issue with respect to consular protection for foreign detainees. Who was involved in ensuring consular protection and how many times had it been afforded, asked the Expert. Were there problems with ensuring this protection that had been found by the State party?
Another Expert said that Qatar had withdrawn its reservations on articles 21 and 22, but did the State recognize the party’s competence in matters of torture and would it receive communications or lodge complaints where there was a claim of a breach of the Convention?
Also, statistics were missing concerning complaints on torture and ill-treatment by the State party in general but also more specifically concerning domestic violence against women, human trafficking and gender-based violence. An Expert asked for clarification with regard to those points.
Detention conditions in a deportation prison near Doha had been found to be in a deplorable state, said another Expert. Men and women were kept in the prison for months at a time and some for over a year without having committed a crime. Women were also subject to physical violence in prisons. Could the State party provide statistics on the number of migrant persons detained in Qatar and steps taken to improve this particular detention facility and help other victims of the kafala system?
The Committee Chairperson asked about the provision of a right to a medical examination and if that right would apply to a person asking to be seen by a doctor after being tortured to have that torture medically documented. Could a detainee request a medical exam by an independent doctor? If the doctor identified injuries as a result of torture, what was the protocol guiding them? Was it obvious where those injuries were to be reported and were any cases such as those reported to the public prosecutor?
Follow-up Questions by Country Rapporteurs
ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Qatar, said the law specified the maximum sentence for torture; he asked what the minimum sentence for torture was. He said that the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers had provided recommendations to Qatar, including on amending some laws, abiding by maximum pre-trial detention periods, and on a code of conduct for judges. Had these recommendations been implemented as they would help ensure the independence of the judiciary. How was the independence of the Office of the Public Prosecutor verified, considering its members were appointed by government officials? Had the recommendation to revive the Constitutional Court been implemented? Also, was legal support provided to vulnerable populations, particularly migrant workers?
ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Qatar, raised a further question concerning immunity for foreign judges. Judges’ functions, wages and salaries were linked to many people and their salaries were tied to the executive of the State to a certain extent. Was there a code of ethics for those judges that would guide them and their rights in Qatar? Under what conditions could a judge be removed?
Responses by the Delegation
AHMED HASSAN AL-HAMADI, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, reasserted Qatar’s commitment to the Committee. The delegation would spare no efforts in replying to the questions asked.
A delegate said various treaty bodies had recommended that Qatar withdraw its reservations to articles of various conventions and instruments relating to human rights and Qatar had adopted a long-term strategic policy to revisit and potentially withdraw those reservations.
Turning to medical complaint mechanisms, if a doctor suspected a person had been exposed to ill-treatment, they were to report the finding to police stationed at the hospital. Patients were entitled to healthcare in a comprehensive fashion with the constant monitoring of their status. They could also receive rehabilitative and psychological treatment at no expense.
The Al-Hamad Medical Foundation had established a centre for victims of ill-treatment, including foreign workers. Patients were to be cared for before being returned to their countries of origin and their families were to be contacted about their family member in treatment. Cooperation with embassies and consulates in Qatar was critical in this respect as well. Furthermore, necessary treatment was to be provided in the patient’s country of origin, to ensure on-going communication with the patient even after they had left Qatar’s borders.
There were two cases in which complaints could be lodged with respect to foreign workers’ treatment in hospitals. In one case, a patient could spontaneously come to the hospital and request healthcare. In another case, if a doctor treating a patient noticed traces of violence or ill-treatment, they were duty bound to report it to the police present in the hospital. In such cases of reported or observed ill-treatment, social and psychological rehabilitation was provided to 150 children and 250 adults.
The mandatory transfer of a patient to a medical institution referred to situations where the doctor or person representing the patient made a decision based on an assessment that prevented the patient from leaving the hospital, even though the patient’s admission was completely voluntary. There was a 72-hour time limit to that provision, however. With regard to the patient’s rights, the law provided for medical treatment. The person’s integrity had to be upheld with protections in place from harmful or degrading treatment by medical personnel.
Another delegate said that the right to undergo a medical examination was critical to identifying human rights violations. Initial medical exams were carried out and highlighted in investigating reports. The victim was then transferred to a forensic doctor to supply further specifics as to when and how the violence took place. The visit to the forensic doctor was not mandatory, however, and could be waived.
A delegate explained that safeguards were provided to those with psychological problems—for example, if the accused was incoherent, unintelligible or had psychological or mental disabilities—they would receive psychological care for two weeks, with a potential extension of that care.
Cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was a priority for the State with Qatar being one of the first countries in the world to extend an open invitation to Special Procedures. There were visits planned by the Special Rapporteurs on terrorism, human trafficking and arbitrary detention. The State party was also working hard to implement recommendations by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.
On another note, a delegate said that journalists in Qatar were protected by law from sanctions and penalties. Freedom of the press was critical in the State and was upheld according to international standards.
Qatar had ratified the United Nations convention on transnational organized crime. Qatar believed that the international phenomenon of trafficking in persons needed more intense efforts. In 2017, Qatar had drafted legislation to protect migrant workers and prevent them from becoming victims of forced labour. The efforts of the country had culminated with recognition by the International Labour Organization.
A national committee had also been established to combat trafficking in persons and was headed by the Minister for Social Affairs and worked in coordination with a number of other governmental bodies. A national action plan and database to combat trafficking would be put in place under this committee as well as a review. In addition, the committee was responsible for preparing and publishing reports relating to their activities and findings.
Turning to the subject of violence against women, Qatar’s 2030 Vision aimed at building a society of equality. The first strategy in this regard included female empowerment. As a first step, prevention and support for victims of domestic abuse had been put in place. A hotline had been set up to receive complaints, an awareness raising campaign had been established, and training programmes had also been held to identify potential cases of abuse.
Speaking about wages and sanctions against corporations, a delegate said that Qatar targeted objectives in accordance with the International Labour Organization’s guidelines to achieve dignified work for all. Legislation now stated that foreign workers could notify their employers up to three months before changing jobs and signing a new contract. Also, passport confiscation by employers was sanctioned and punishable by a fine.
Cases of fraud relating to visas were referred to the Public Prosecutor and in 2017 there were 20 such cases, said a delegate. The State of Qatar had also achieved a very important objective with regard to the protection of wages of foreign workers and adopted legislation to this effect. An electronic monitoring system had been put in place that monitored and documented wage dispersion. The objective was to make sure that employers paid workers’ salaries within a restricted timeline. The law also stipulated that the salary had to be transferred to the worker’s bank account at one of the State’s financial institutions. This law was to protect a category of workers with regard to their financial dues and to reduce legal conflict between the parties.
In clarification, a delegate said that the labour system no longer faced challenges. All corporations and employers had to open bank accounts for the workers, regardless of their wages. The Ministry of Labour and Social Development supervised these transactions with over 450 inspectors.
With regard to the right of interpretation during investigation, a delegate said the Criminal Procedures Code stipulated that investigation or interrogation would take place in Arabic with the public prosecutor and any witnesses. If the accused could not speak in Arabic, an interpreter would be provided. The legislature also put in a guarantee that the interpreter had to take an oath to perform his or her duties with integrity.
As to the question of whether Qatar intended to abolish capital punishment in its legislation, a delegate said that capital punishment was found in the provisions of most countries of the world. In Qatar, only very serious crimes that endangered public security and order were punishable by this penalty. Between 2012 and 2018, Qatar had applied capital punishment in only five cases; all five cases concerned atrocious crimes. Also, under the legal safeguards provided by the law, capital punishment could not be applied to a pregnant woman until after she gave birth. If her baby was born alive, her sentence could only be imposed after two years.
Migrant detention centres were of great importance to the Government with the dignity of the detainees upheld in accordance with international standards. At the start of 2018, a detention centre was expanded to hold 500 people.
Addressing equality, a delegate said that everyone in Qatar was equal before the law and the State adopted the same rules and principles before all courts. Addressing the issue of foreign judges and their rights, they came to the country and acted on a labour contract, and their rights were protected by a decree.
Concerning the prevention of torture, certain provisions of the Penal Code had been amended in 2010. A penalty of imprisonment of more than five years could be sought for any public official who used force against an accused person to gain a confession. If that torture led to permanent injury, the official could be sentenced to imprisonment up to 10 years. If the torture led to the death of the accused, a life sentence or capital punishment could be imposed.
Flogging, said a delegate, was eliminated by the Prison Act of 2016. Flogging was not imposed on detainees or prisoners. This same Prison Act also regulated safeguards provided to inmates. No prisoner could be put in solitary confinement except for limited periods. A committee of investigation could issue an order for solitary confinement but had to take into account factors such as the act committed and the prisoner’s threat to other inmates. The committee could order solitary confinement for no longer than 15 days with the inmate able to challenge that decision as well.
Since 2002, the State of Qatar had placed mechanisms like the national human rights institution within the Ministry of the Interior. This was a clear indication of a well-founded belief in human rights protections, seeking to ensure general welfare for all, said a delegate.
Follow-up Questions by Country Rapporteurs
ABDELWAHAB HANI, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Qatar, expressed his disappointment as legal provisions were provided in the delegation’s responses but without use of statistics to give a clearer picture as to what practices were in place with regard to torture; therefore, the information was limited. He also found it alarming that a crime could not be deemed to have taken place if an official was taking orders from his superior. This, he affirmed, could not be used as grounds for absolving responsibility and exceptional matters such as these were problematic.
ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Qatar, with regard to whipping, said that it was prohibited in correctional facilities as a disciplinary punishment according to the State. However, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in 2017, received a reply from Qatar stating that minors aged 16 and above could be subjected to various punishments, including whipping. Did this indicate that corporal punishment was still in use as a punishment handed down by the courts?
The Law to Combat Terrorism seemed to be working based on arbitrary detention. She warned that persons should not be detained unless they were given due process as provided by international instruments; there was a need to take into account the rights of persons deprived of their liberties.
Also, she continued, sponsorship schemes were still in place in Qatar. To leave the country, employees still needed their employers to sign off on their departure, which could be denied. Passports were no longer frequently confiscated—an unlawful practice—but Act 21 still legalized this because the employee signed a document ceding their passport to their employer on request, meaning that the system had not actually improved.
BAKHTIYAR TUZMUKHAMEDOV, Associate Rapporteur for Qatar, raised concern about the State’s use of capital punishment on mothers once their children reached the age of two. It would seem, he said, that at that point, the child would have developed a bond with the mother and the separation would thus be harder to bear for the young child. Also, when death penalties were carried out, how were the remains disposed of and was there a law to that effect?
JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, asked for statistics concerning the reporting mechanism for forensic medical exams in hospitals.
Further, Mr. Hani found that although the rights of Qataris and non-Qatari’s before the law were regarded as equal, statistics received from the Supreme Judicial Council showed otherwise, with non-Qataris in detention accounting for about 10-fold the number of Qataris. Could the delegation provide clarification for that phenomenon?
Also, with regard to establishments for psychological health, what was the number of inmates in psychological institutions? Furthermore, there were no statistics for the cases before the law concerning the number of trafficked people in Qatar.
Responses by the Delegation
In response to the questions by the Committee Experts, a delegate said that a national human rights institution monitored psychiatric health institutions, ensuring that patients received full health care. The number of patients in those institutions amounted to 1,800 cases.
Alleged cases of ill-treatment found by doctors in hospitals were immediately reported to the police. Medical reports were private, but could be revealed in accordance with the law and could be requested by the courts and public prosecutor.
In the case of the perpetration of crimes of torture by the military, public officials had the right to deny their participation in the act before a court. Legislation provided for the criminal responsibility of the person who ordered the act as well as the perpetrator of the act of torture.
With regard to a death sentence carried out after a pregnant woman had given birth, no such cases had existed in Qatar, however, the example was provided to illustrate the protections in place for pregnant women in the country. Capital punishment in Qatar was imposed as a deterrent, only to be used in very limited cases such as pre-meditated murder. If serious crimes were not deterred, security could not be guaranteed.
The situation of minors in Qatar was improving with detainees who were children placed in care centres rather than prison. Those under the age of 18 years could not be subjected to criminal penalties but would rather be disciplined and placed in a specialized or medical institution.
Turning to the Labour Code, protection gaps had been reduced in recent years. Issues with workers’ rights had been addressed and Qatar had signed a technical cooperation agreement with the International Labour Organization. The State party had also set up a labour dispute committee. In addition, a decree established a workers’ committee to examine problems of labourers in line with recommendations from the International Labour Organization.
Another delegate, responding to the question concerning the large numbers of foreign workers in detention in Qatar, explained that the influx of migrant workers in the country for work outnumbered the small number of Qataris. Expatriate workers constituted a majority in the country.
Human rights training and education, said another delegate, was extremely important to strengthen society’s understanding of human rights. Seven programmes had been established to disseminate human rights’ concepts. A national framework had been established for school curricula relating to principles of care, love, peace and tolerance for others, along with respect for others and other cultures. Human rights concepts had also been integrated into school curricula, focusing on a number of issues relating to children and child dignity. This was to promote a dialogue with children and build bridges between cultures and communities.
AHMAD HASSAN AL-HAMADI, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to carry out a fruitful and constructive dialogue. There was political will to implement the provisions of the Convention. Qatar would continue to cooperate with Special Procedures, treaty bodies and this Committee to promote and protect human rights. Qatar would also continue to review its legislation to promote and strengthen institutions responsible for implementing its obligations. They would work to improve capacity building and training through workshops to cover many aspects of combatting torture. Statistical progress achieved with regard to the Convention would be provided as soon as possible and the concluding observations from this Committee would be disseminated to all sectors of the Government so they could carry out their tasks in line with the Convention.
JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their participation and wished them a safe trip back to Qatar.
For use of the information media; not an official record