COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Committee considered the eighth periodic report of Qatar (CERD/C/207/Add.1)
at its 964th and 983rd meetings, held on 5 and 18 March 1993 (see
CERD/C/SR.964 and 983).
report was introduced by the representative of the State party,
who underlined that article 9 of the provisional Constitution
of Qatar established the equality of all individuals and prohibited
the promulgation of laws permitting discrimination on the basis
of origin, sex or religion. In addition, article 5 of the provisional
Constitution declared the adherence of Qatar to the principles
contained in the Charter of the United Nations, which included
condemnation of racial discrimination. Discrimination was also
prohibited under Islamic law (Shariah), which was the principal
source for the legislation of Qatar. Both the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the
International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of
the Crime of Apartheid formed part of the domestic law of Qatar
and could be invoked before the courts. Courts in Qatar could
award compensation to victims of discrimination by invoking article
4 of the Civil Code. However, since acts of racial discrimination
were unknown in Qatar, there had not been a need to adopt specific
legislation in that regard.
welcoming the assurances given by the representative that the
Convention had been incorporated in domestic law, members of the
Committee pointed out that the Convention obligated States parties
to undertake legislative, judicial, administrative and other measures
to give effect to its provisions. Additionally, legislation expressly
prohibiting racial discrimination and racist propaganda would
have a useful preventive effect.
of the Committee requested further information on the demographic
composition of the population and, in particular, statistical
indicators on the health, life expectancy, and access to housing
and education of foreign workers.
respect to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee
wished to know whether article 9 of the Constitution, which guaranteed
the equality of all individuals in regard to their rights and
obligations, also applied to non-citizens; whether non-Arabs were
able to acquire Qatar nationality; whether foreign workers were
discriminated against; whether the Government intended to adopt
legislation prohibiting discrimination against foreign workers;
and whether integrationist, multiracial organizations would not
be of benefit in Qatar.
regard to article 5 of the Convention, members asked whether free
choice of employment was guaranteed to foreigners; whether foreign
workers had access to all professions and trades; whether the
Government envisaged measures to eliminate differences between
citizens and foreign workers concerning access to all trades;
whether non-citizens were eligible to receive social security
benefits; and whether freedom to leave the country and return
was guaranteed to non-citizens. Noting that the legislation restricting
non-Arab lawyers from pleading a case before the courts was discriminatory,
members asked for further information on the relevant regulations.
With respect to freedom of religion, members asked what facilities
were available to non-Muslims for the practice of their religion.
respect to article 6 of the Convention, members wished to have
further information on specific legislation providing for compensation
to victims of discrimination, and on the procedures used to decide
whether compensation was to be awarded and in what amount, and
wished to know what amounts had been awarded in the past as compensation.
They also asked what were the respective competences of civil
and religious courts in cases concerning racial discrimination;
whether the religious courts based their decisions on the Koran,
the Sunna or on jurisprudence; and what guidelines existed
governing access of victims of discrimination to the civil and
religious courts. Members also requested further information relating
to the role of the Labour Court in protecting persons against
to the questions and comments of the members of the Committee,
the representative of the State party said that Palestinians had
been residing in Qatar for over 40 years and that a number of
them had acquired citizenship. During the Gulf war, no Palestinians
had been expelled from the country. The Palestinian community
enjoyed all rights guaranteed under the law.
workers signed contracts with their employers for one or two years'
duration. Medical care was provided free of charge to foreigners
and access to medical care was guaranteed to all. Additionally,
the right to education was guaranteed to all under the law. The
Asiatic and European communities in Qatar had begun to create
their own schools under the control of the Ministry of Education
and instruction was available in various languages. Freedom of
religion was also guaranteed. Anyone could practise the religion
of his or her choice, although there were no Christian churches
or Buddhist temples in Qatar because those religions were celebrated
in the homes of their adherents.
representative stated that the Government envisaged some revision
of its laws so that they might conform to modern legislation.
Those revisions if adopted, would accompany the next report Qatar
would submit to the Committee. Other questions raised by members
of the Committee would also be answered in that report.
Committee welcomed the Government's willingness in principle to
introduce new legislation to bring its existing laws into conformity
with the Convention. It repeated its offer of assistance from
the advisory services programme of the Centre for Human Rights.
Committee drew the attention of the Government to General Recommendations
I and II and reiterated its request for further demographic data
in accordance with General Recommendation IV.
appreciating that there might be little evidence of racial discrimination
in Qatar, the Committee emphasized the preventive value of legislative
Committee noted the view of the Government that the Shariah courts
and the civil courts together offered sufficient remedies for
any charges of racial discrimination that might be brought. The
Committee was concerned about the criteria by which a Shariah
court would determine an appropriate punishment and queried the
necessity of separate proceedings in the civil court for the victim
to obtain compensation in accordance with article 6 of the Convention.