Geneva- The Gulf crisis has uncovered a situation of humiliation for human dignity and a serious threat to community peace in the region, reveals a new report issued Tuesday by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
The current state of affairs has been caused by crippling measures taken by the four boycotting countries (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt) against Qatari citizens as well as citizens of boycotting countries residing in Qatar, resulting in flagrant human rights violations primarily affecting civilians.
The governments of the four countries complicit in the “boycott” have not taken into account international norms or the legal instruments regulating relations among states. The measures taken fit the description of unilateral coercive measures that targeted and directly affected the rights of civilians, whether Qatari nationals, nationals of boycott countries residing in Qatar or migrant workers residing in Qatar as well.
The crisis has seriously affected thousands of families and individuals, violated freedoms of expression and opinion, dispersed hundreds of families, and resulted in severe crippling of the economy, private property, education, employment, health care, movement and the performance of religious rituals.
On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, together with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced that they have decided to cut all diplomatic relations with Qatar. This decision included banning all trade relations, blocking roads with Qatar and banning all flights to the country.
Boycott countries further ordered their nationals to leave Qatar immediately, and decided to expel all Qatari nationals residing in or arriving to any of the four countries within 14 days of the announcement. The Qatari diplomatic missions were given only 48 hours to vacate their headquarters, with the four countries ordering withdrawal of their diplomatic missions from Qatar. This decision has set out an economic, political, and diplomatic blockade on the country.
From the beginning of the crisis until the end of May 2018, 646 complaints concerning forced family separation were submitted. These violations include 346 violations by Saudi Arabia, 82 by UAE and 218 by Bahrain. According to Euro-Med Monitor estimates, the number of families separated as a result stand at higher than 6,474, some temporarily and others permanently.
In terms of the impact of the boycotting countries' decisions on the right of individuals to education, Qataris and non-Qataris alike have been harmed as a result. Qatari students studying at a university in one of the four countries were ordered to leave these countries and return immediately to Qatar. This caused harm to 3,251 students according to statistics by the Qatari Ministry of Education
Some 37 violations of the right to health have been documented, including the prevention of treatment for Qatari nationals in a boycotting countries’ hospitals and emergency medical operations. Patients from the other four countries residing in Qatar have also been unable to receive treatment in Qatari hospitals as a result of the ban as well.
Travel restrictions and transportation services have prevented many Gulf citizens from continuing to receive treatment in the pre-crisis countries of residence/treatment, and have also caused shortages of medical supplies in Qatari hospitals.
Restrictions imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain relating to freedom of opinion and expression have violated Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 32 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights.
Non-Gulf migrant workers, who make up about one-third of the population of Qatar, have also been impact. Those who wish to perform Hajj or Umrah rituals are not spared from arbitrary measures and restrictions imposed on the movement of Qatari citizens to the blockading countries.
Directly and indirectly, the crisis has affected the rights of worship and the performance of religious rituals for Qataris within Saudi Arabia, whose authorities imposed restrictions on the travel of Qataris to its territory, including those who wished to travel to perform Hajj and Umrah. The total number of complaints concerning the rights to perform religious rites has reached 165 since the beginning of the crisis.
The authorities in the four countries have deprived their citizens of the possibility of renewing their passports or registering their newborns by closing their embassies and diplomatic missions in the country and criminalized non-abiding citizens.
The evacuation of Qatari citizens from the four countries has resulted in the disruption of their economic interests and the denial of access to their private property in those countries. Most of the citizens who were forced to return to Qatar have been unable to access their companies and activities since then. Over 1,234 complaints concerning private property rights in the boycotting countries have been filed to the national authorities in Qatar.
Boycotting countries must ensure respect for human rights before taking any measures, said Sandra Owen, a Euro-Med Spokeswoman, stressing the need to spare civilians of all nationalities the repercussions of such measures, refrain from arbitrary policies towards citizens and ensure respect for their freedoms and rights.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reiterates calls to the international community and the United Nations to establish and send an international mediation mission to the region in order to ensure a swift resolution to the one-year crisis.
Euro-Med Monitor also calls on all concerned and competent bodies to pressure the countries boycotting Qatar to end their collective measures affecting civilians and to compensate for any damage.
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