On the 5th of June 2017 and In an unexpected and unaccountable move, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the Arab Republic of Egypt declared a land, sea and air blockade on the State of Qatar and cut off all diplomatic ties which have long brought together these countries. The step which we condemned and considered in AFD International outside the framework of international law and in violation of regional charters and international conventions, especially, the Charter of the United Nations which states in its second paragraph that nations members of the UN should “Develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.” The siege is in contrast to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of state, especially the principle of non-use of force or threat against other countries, mutual respect and coexistence in peace with neighbouring countries.
In order to determine the repercussions of this decision, we formed an international team consisting of human rights experts, professional journalists, medical profession and intellectual figures. Our focus was on the extent of human rights violations this blockade has had on different categories of the Qatari society. AFD International had the opportunity to meet with the president of the National Human Rights Committee and number of their officials, whom outlined the humanitarian situation in Qatar after the blockade and provided reports on the subject.
The mission then held hearings of more than 50 people who were affected by the blockade, including couple from different nationalities whom this new circumstances forced them to separate, a number of live stock owners and properties owners, entrepreneurs whom had their assets confiscated, people who were getting their medical treatments in the countries of blockade were forced to haunt their treatments and leave and a number of Qatari, Emirati and Saudi students. Our series of meetings and testimonies gathering was concluded with a meeting with the management of Aljazeera network and some of its journalists who explained further their concerns with regards to the demand of its closure and threatening its staff and journalists to leave the channel and any other channel in Qatar.
After analysing and examining all the minutes of hearings and other complaints and testimonies, we concluded that the violations included the right to freedom of expression, freedom of movement, the right to work, freedom of worship and religion and the right to education. These are fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially, articles: 5,8,9,12,13,15,17,18, 19, 23 and 26.And it has been stipulated by other international agreements signed and ratified by the states of blockade themselves, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states in article 1, paragraph 2 that: “1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognised in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
AFD International is very concern and alarmed by the demand of the states of blockade to to close Aljazeera Channel and other media outlets. We believe that this is a sovereignty issue and a clear violation of a fundamental right which is the freedom of expression as stipulated in article 19 of the UDHR and ICCPR.
Finally, we would like to stress that Saudi Arabia’s tightening of restrictions on pilgrims is a violation of one of the most fundamental rights, freedom of religion and belief namely the UDHR which states in its article 18:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Herewith, AFD International announces the organisation of a press conference in order to inform the international public about the findings of the report of the observation mission On Sunday 27 August 2017 in the Belgian capital Brussels, starting at 13:00 local time at Thon Hotel Bristol, Avenue Louise 91-93, B-1050, Brussels, Belgium.
Rapport of the international observer mission to Qatar
Brussels, 27 August 2017
For the final report of the international observer mission to Qatar