The Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) declares its legal and ethical adoption of the case of the Al-Ghufran tribe of Qatar – one of the branches of the Al-Murrah tribe, which historically dominates Qatar – after many of its members continued to spread their grievances against the government of Qatar. AFHR will work to highlight the issues of this tragedy and draw the attention of the international community to carry out its responsibility to follow up the situation of these victims and to stand by them as well as to repair the injustice inflicted on them.
In this context, Dr. Ahmad Thani Al Hamli, Founder and President of the Arab Federation for Human Rights, sent a message to Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressing the hope that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights would translate its work to promote rights and freedoms in the world by taking relevant measures to protect the Al-Ghufran tribe, to redress them stateless situation, to restore the rights of their lost children and stand by them.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights believes that the authorities in Doha have unanimously delegitimized the members of the Al-Ghufran tribe and their children, and even their deceased fathers and grandparents, as an arbitrary collective punishment. AFHR further affirms that this action by Qatari authorities is a blatant violation of the principles of human rights with respect to the granting and withdrawal of citizenship, in accordance with certain mechanisms and controls, which the government of Qatar has ratified, pledged to protect, promote and provide to all its citizens and residents on its territory.
AFHR asserts that international human rights law recognizes the right of States to decide who their nationals are, but stressed that this right is not absolute where such actions must be subject to legal considerations. These legal instruments requires all governments to comply with their human rights obligations with respect to the granting and prevention of the arbitrary deprivation of nationality, as it effectively increases the deprivation of persons affected, raises the risk of human rights abuse as well as threatens the lives and future of their children. International law also stresses that those who have been subjected to the withdrawal of nationality should have the right to appeal before the local courts and they should be provided with all opportunities to express their views in accordance with fair trials consistent with international law.
In 2005, the Qatari government expelled more than 6,000 of its citizens from the Al-Ghufran family, after revoking their citizenship without any justification or reason in accordance with international standards, depriving them of their basic human rights, some were imprisoned and their property confiscated while others were prevented from disposing of their property. These measures taken are linked to the loyalty of members of the Ghufran clan to Qatar’s deposed emir Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani. A number of members of that tribe of police and army personnel where accused of participating in the failed June 1995 palace coup.
This collective punishment of the members of the Al-Ghufran tribe without any legal justification, without any judicial rulings or fair trials contravenes several international conventions. The displacement of women and children in particular, deprives them of their fundamental rights and freedoms to health, education, housing, work, mobility, expression and other rights set forth in various international conventions. They equally violate many provisions of international law which affirm the right of an individual to a nationality and prohibit States parties (as in the case of the State of Qatar) from arbitrarily depriving individuals of their nationality. For instance, Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to a nationality” and “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor of the right to change his nationality”. Also, Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child also provides for the rights of children to acquire nationality from birth and States to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights also affirms that these unjust measures taken by the Qatari authorities against the Al-Ghufran tribe violate the provisions of the Qatari Constitution. Article 18 of the constitution states that society is based on the pillars of justice, charity, freedom, equality and morality. On the maintenance of the State of the pillars of society and ensure security and stability and equal opportunities for citizens, as provided for in Article (20) of the Constitution is to consolidate the spirit of patriotism, solidarity and brotherhood among all citizens. Indeed, these unfair national measures are an explicit deviations from the text of Article 29 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights which states explicitly that “Everyone has the right to a nationality and no one shall be arbitrarily or unlawfully deprived of any person.” The Qatari authorities have not guaranteed the right of persons whose nationality has been revoked to appeal before the judiciary, to ensure that decisions to abrogate nationality have not been made arbitrarily pursuant to the provisions of Articles 13 and 29 of the Charter as well as to enable persons whose nationality has been revoked to appeal against the decisions made, and to ensure that such decisions do not lead to the occurrence of statelessness.
Therefore, the Arab Federation for Human Rights calls on the international community to urgently investigate the widespread violations against the Al-Ghufran tribe and calls on all human rights organizations both inside and outside the State of Qatar to play their role by monitoring these violations and stand by those affected. AFHR further affirms that silence on this gross abuse, blatant violation and collective punishment of innocent people are not only unacceptable, but equally fells that the authorities in Qatar should be punished for their participation in the violation of the credibility of human rights and their universal values. But the vulnerability of the tribe and its members to any danger is the responsibility of all concerned parties inside and outside Qatar, in particular the Qatar National Human Rights Committee, which has not observed this violation and has recently implemented unfair country policy and abandoned the defense of human rights principles.
Finally, the Arab Federation calls on the Qatari government to expeditiously abolish these arbitrary measures and to return the nationality to the Al-Ghufran tribe. In addition, Qatari authorities should restore expropriated funds of the tribe and all their basic rights, as a result of the violation of the inherent human rights and the unlawful collective punishment where no judicial verdicts were issued against them. It further calls on the Qatari authorities to respect the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all relevant international instruments.
Arab Federation for Human Rights
Geneva March 11th, 2018