Hundreds of people were arbitrarily deprived of their nationality. Women continued to face discrimination and violence. Foreign migrant workers were exploited and abused, and inadequately protected under the law. At least 20 people were on death row but there were no executions.
The government continued to deny Qatari nationality to hundreds of people who were consequently either denied employment opportunities, social security and health care, or were denied entry to Qatar. Most were members of al-Murra tribe, who were deprived of their nationality after a failed coup attempt in 1996 for which the authorities blamed some members of the tribe. They had no means of remedy before the courts.
"Women migrant domestic workers were particularly at risk of exploitation..."
- Hamad Abdel Hadi Hamad Al-Hamran and members of his family continued to be denied entry to Qatar. They were stripped of their nationality after the 1996 coup attempt and sought exile in the United Arab Emirates where they continued to reside.
- ‘Abdul Hameed Hussain al-Mohammed, together with his six children and two brothers, were reported to have been stripped of their Qatari nationality and ordered to be deported in October 2002, after he and his two brothers were sentenced to prison terms. They were given no reasons and had no means to challenge the decision, which led to them being dismissed from their jobs, denied housing assistance and losing their employment rights. They remained in Qatar under threat of deportation.
Discrimination and violence against women
Women continued to face discrimination in law and in practice and were inadequately protected against violence within the family. In particular, family law discriminates against women, making it much easier for men to divorce than women, and placing women whose husbands leave them or who seek a divorce at a severe economic disadvantage.
In August, the government equalized the law on compensation which had previously set the level of compensation to be paid for the loss of a woman’s life at half that of a man.
Foreign migrant workers, who make up a large proportion of Qatar’s workforce, continued to be exposed to, and inadequately protected against, abuses and exploitation by employers. Women migrant domestic workers were particularly at risk of exploitation and abuses such as beatings, rape and other sexual violence. Some 20,000 workers were reported to have fled from their employers in 2007 alone due to delays in or non-payment of their wages, excessive hours and poor working conditions.
In June, the Consultative Council adopted draft legislation to improve migrant workers’ conditions by requiring employers to allow rest days and three weeks’ holiday a year or face fines or imprisonment. It had yet to be enacted.
Counter-terror and security
In May, the government acceded to the Gulf Cooperation Council Counter Terrorism Convention, 2004. This defines terrorism in very broad and vague terms, which could allow restriction or suppression of activities that constitute legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Qatar’s counter-terrorism laws are also overly broad and allow the authorities to detain suspects for up to six months without charge and for up to two years without trial on vaguely worded charges.
In July, the US authorities released Jarrallah al-Marri, a Qatari national, from Guantánamo Bay and returned him to Qatar. No charges were brought and he was released. His brother, Ali al-Marri, continued to be detained by the US authorities as an alleged enemy combatant.
At least 20 people were on death row, including 17 people sentenced in 2001 for involvement in the 1996 coup attempt, but there were no executions. Wabran al-Yami, a Saudi Arabian national sentenced in the coup attempt case, was released in July at the request of the Saudi Arabian Interior Minister and allowed to return to his country.
In December, Qatar voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.