University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Qatar, U.N. Doc. A/48/18, paras. 86-99 (1993).



Forty-second session


Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


86. The 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).

87. The 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.

88. While 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.

89. Members 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.

90. With 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.

91. In 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.

92. With 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 discrimination.

93. Responding 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.

94. Foreign 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.

95. The 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.

Concluding observations

96. The 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.

97. The 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.

98. While appreciating that there might be little evidence of racial discrimination in Qatar, the Committee emphasized the preventive value of legislative measures.

99. The 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.





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