Qatar - Amnesty International Report 2007

Human Rights in STATE OF QATAR

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Head of state: Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
Head of government: Shaikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: not ratified

At least 2,000 people continued to be deprived of their Qatari nationality. A woman who had been confined to her family home against her will since 2003 was allowed to leave the country. At least 21 prisoners were under sentence of death but no executions were reported.

Abuses in the 'war on terror'

Some 17 detainees, including several foreign nationals, were released during the year after being held for prolonged periods by the security forces. Some had been held since 2005. At least one other was tried and convicted.

• Fahad al-Mansouri, who had been detained without charge or trial since his arrest in November 2005, was reported to have been tried in connection with "belonging to a secret organization" and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.

• Hamid 'Aladdin Shahadeh, a Jordanian national, was released without charge in October. Arrested in March 2005, he had reportedly been held in the State Security prison in the industrial area of Doha.

Political prisoners

At least 31 prisoners sentenced for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government in 1996 remained in prison. They had been convicted after an unfair trial in 1999. Allegations that they were tortured or ill-treated in pre-trial detention were never adequately investigated. Eighteen remained under sentence of death and at least 13 others were serving prison terms.

Torture and ill-treatment

The UN Committee against Torture examined Qatar's implementation of the Convention against Torture in May. The Committee welcomed Qatar's report but expressed concern that Qatari legislation fails to define torture in accordance with international standards and that arrest and detention procedures placed suspects at increased risk of torture, particularly the lack of access to a lawyer or independent doctor or any requirement that the authorities notify a detainee's relatives of the arrest.

Deprival of nationality

At least 2,000 people, many of them members of the al-Ghufran branch of the al-Murra tribe, continued to be denied Qatari nationality by the authorities. They were formally deprived of Qatari nationality in 2004 and 2005 on the grounds that they held Saudi Arabian nationality, although they denied this. In March, the authorities announced that they were carrying out a review of such cases and by the end of the year some 4,000 others were believed to have had their nationality reinstated. In at least some cases, however, Qatari authorities were alleged to have amended individuals' birth records to state that they were born in Saudi Arabia, so rendering them ineligible to participate in elections in Qatar.

• 'Abdullah Hussein 'Ali Ahmed al-Malki was believed not to have had his Qatari nationality restored by the end of the year. His nationality was revoked soon after he criticized the Qatari authorities in comments broadcast on the al-Jazeera satellite television station in May 2005.

Violence against women

The UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, visited Qatar in November and expressed concern about the number of migrant workers who were victims of human trafficking. The Special Rapporteur recommended that the Qatari authorities implement international obligations related to human trafficking and take steps to introduce mechanisms which would ensure that victims of trafficking were properly identified and treated.

• Hamda Fahad Jassem al-Thani, a member of Qatar's ruling family who had been confined to her home against her will since November 2003, was injured in June when she sought to escape. She was admitted to hospital after intervention by the Qatari Human Rights Committee. In October, she was permitted to leave Qatar and rejoin her husband in Egypt.

Death penalty

Eighteen people convicted of involvement in a coup attempt in 1996 remained under sentence of death. Three new death sentences were imposed in February, on two Nepalese and one Indian national convicted of murder. No executions were reported.

AI country reports/visits

Report

• Qatar: Briefing to the Committee against Torture (AI Index: MDE 22/002/2006)