Qatar praised for human rights reforms as deported human rights defender sentenced to jail

Association

Human Rights Watch recently highlighted new reforms related to rights protection in Qatar. Nonetheless, concerns over the treatment of human rights defenders (HRDs) remain. In a recent example, HRD Mohammed Abdullah Al-Otaibi was deported from Qatar to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, where on 25th January 2018 he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Al-Otaibi, whose case was previously reported on the Monitor, faced multiple charges, including setting up a human rights organisation (Union for Human Rights) before obtaining an official permit, as well as publishing online petitions.

Although the highly-anticipated reforms could improve human rights in the country, questions remain over the political will to implement the new standards, especially for migrant workers and in cases involving citizenship. Moreover, the state's complicity in the extradition of HRDs, such as in Al-Otaibi's case, shows that there is still cause for concern over human rights protection.   

Expression

The website "Doha News", which was blocked in 2016, remains blocked by the authorities in Qatar, according to the website's statement as of 17th January 2018. According to the statement, the authorities have requested that the news outlet fulfill additional requirements to have the website made accessible again. Reports from the ground note that the website remained inaccessible into late January.