APF expresses its support for Qatar's NHRI
الجرافيك Dr Ali Bin Samikh Al-Marri, Chaiperson of the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar
The APF has expressed it support for the work of Qatar's NHRI to monitor the human rights situation of those affected by the recent political crisis.
29 August 2017
Mr Ali Bin Samikh Al-Marri
Qatar National Human Rights Committee
I address this letter to you as Chairperson of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF), which is the United Nations (UN) recognised umbrella body of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific.
As you know the APF represents 24 NHRIs from around the Asia Pacific region, 15 of which, including your esteemed NHRI, have been accredited as being fully compliant with the Paris Principles and provided with 'A' status at the UN.
It has been brought to my attention that on 5th June 2017 the States of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed relations with the State of Qatar and closed adjoining sea, land and air routes.
In line with the domestic mandate of your NHRI, I have subsequently been in receipt of your regular reports commenting on the human rights dimension of this issue, in particular civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including rights to freedom of movement, family, education, work, freedom of opinion, health, residence and private property. I have noted the significant increase in complaints received by your NHRI and the impact this issue is having on the daily lives of ordinary people. I was particularly concerned about the forced separation of family members and the wellbeing of thousands of nationals of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates living in Doha, and for Qataris living in the Gulf region.
As you know, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) has adopted a 'General Observation' which is relevant to NHRIs when working in a situation of a state of emergency. This General Observation provides that:
"In the situation of a coup d'état or a state of emergency, it is expected that an NHRI will conduct itself with a heightened level of vigilance and independence, and in strict accordance with its mandate. NHRIs are expected to promote and ensure respect for human rights, democratic principles and the strengthening of the rule of law in all circumstances and without exception. In situations of conflict or a state of emergency, this may include monitoring, documenting, issuing public statements and releasing regular and detailed reports through the media in a timely manner to address urgent human rights violations." (emphasis added).
The justification for this General Observation is as follows:
Under the Paris Principles, NHRIs have the responsibility to promote and protect human rights (Paris Principle A.1). The powers and responsibilities of an NHRI contained in Paris Principle A.3 include:
- Reporting on human rights violations (Paris Principle A.3(a)(ii) –(iii));
- Monitoring and reporting on government action or inaction (Paris Principle A.3(a)(iv)) ; and
- Publicizing its views on any matters concerning the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principle A.3(a)). This responsibility is further elaborated in Paris Principle C(c), which provides that a NHRI should have the capacity to address public opinion directly or through any press organ, particularly in order to publicize its opinions and recommendations.
Relevantly to the current circumstances in Qatar, the General Observation states:
- NHRIs, as independent and impartial bodies, play a particularly important role by investigating allegations of violations promptly, thoroughly and effectively. As such, NHRIs will be expected to promote and ensure respect for human rights, democratic principles and strengthening the rule of law in all circumstances without exception. This may include issuing public statements and releasing regular and detailed reports through the media in a timely manner to address urgent human rights violations.
- In order to fulfil its obligations, it is necessary that the NHRI continue to conduct itself with a heightened level of vigilance and independence in the exercise of its mandate (emphasis added). The SCA will scrutinize the extent to which the NHRI concerned has taken steps to the maximum of its available resources to provide the greatest possible protection for the human rights of each individual within its jurisdiction.
The Qatar National Human Rights Committee is internationally recognised by the UN as Qatar's NHRI. It has been accredited by GANHRI as an "A" status institution following a rigorous accreditation process that is carried out by GANHRI under the auspices of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights acting as secretariat. This "A" status is only granted to NHRIs that comply fully with the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (commonly referred to as the Paris Principles) which were adopted by General Assembly Resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993. The Paris Principles set out the necessary guarantees of independence that are required in order for the NHRI to be regarded as truly independent.
In line with the responsibilities of 'A' status NHRIs and the requirements of the GANHRI General Observation, I wish to congratulate the Qatar National Human Rights Committee for performing its mandate so diligently during this political crisis.The APF stands ready to support your NHRI.
Mr Jamsran Byambadorj
- Dr Ali Bin Samikh Al-Marri, Chaiperson of the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar - Screengrab of Al Jazeera news report; https://youtu.be/lZrWadRAJv4