HRDs face life sentences & death penalty for their peaceful human rights work

HRDs face life sentences & death penalty for their peaceful human rights work
Court gavel

Association

On 7th April 2022, Amnesty International published a 74-page report documenting the forced labour and other abuses of migrant workers in Qatar’s private security sector ahead of the FIFA World Cup. Interviews with migrants employed in the private security sector revealed that in some cases, workers are denied rest days and are forced to work 84-hour weeks despite the fact that Qatari employment law imposes a maximum of 60 hours of work per week. This abusive treatment clearly contradicts the sweeping labour reforms which came into force in September 2020, including ending the abusive kafala system, the introduction of a minimum wage for migrant workers and harsher penalties for companies that do not comply with the new labour laws. According to Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, Stephen Cockburn, “With the World Cup just months away, FIFA must focus on doing more to prevent abuses in the inherently perilous private security sector or see the tournament further marred by abuse. More broadly, FIFA must also use its leverage to pressure Qatar to better implement its reforms and enforce its laws. Time is fast running out – if better practices are not established now, abuses will continue long after fans have gone home.”

Peaceful Assembly

On 11th May 2022, the First Circuit Criminal Court held the second hearing of Qatari human rights defender Abdullah Al-Maliki’s trial on charges relating to his peaceful human rights activities, including participation in protests outside Qatari diplomatic missions in Europe, including in Germany on 7th May 2022. The specific charges include "publicly challenging the emir's exercise of his powers and dishonouring himself", "inciting the overthrow of the ruling regime", and "attempting to overthrow the regime." The state security apparatus, which has control over the judiciary, demands the application of Article 130 of the Qatari Penal Code, which includes the death penalty.

On 10th May 2022, the Second Circuit Criminal Court handed down a life sentence to lawyer Dr Hazzaa bin Ali Abu Shraydeh Al-Marri and his brother and fellow lawyer Rashid bin Ali Abu Shraydeh Al-Marri for their participation in peaceful protests in August 2021. As previously documented, On 9th August 2021, members of the Al-Murra tribe gathered peacefully to demand that the authorities overturn the Shura Council Elections Law (which effectively disenfranchises thousands of Qatari citizens), guarantee equal rights to all citizens and uphold freedom of expression. The court also issued a life sentence in absentia for the Qatari poet, Mohammed bin Rashid bin Al-Dheeb Al-Ajami, and 15 years in prison for Mohammed Hamad Mohammed Al-Marri. Notably, Al-Ajami and Mohammed Al-Marri did not participate in the protests as they were abroad at the time and have been convicted merely for expressing their full support for the protests on social media.

Expression

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup, which will take place in Qatar in November 2022, the Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of the World Cup has been accused of failing to respond to requests sent by a number of organisations expressing their concerns about potential risks facing LGBTIQ+ players and fans. In particular, some members of the LGBTIQ+ community are fearful of travelling to Qatar, where homosexuality is still against the law. In a press release, the organisations stated: “Progress has been slow, reassurances about the safety of LGBTIQ+ people and the mechanisms in place to ensure safety have not been adequate. If acknowledgement of the issues facing LGBTIQ+ people in Qatar and reassurances of safety cannot be offered, we will be forced to question if the risk facing LGBTIQ+ people wanting to attend or work at the World Cup in Qatar is too high. Further meetings are planned with both FIFA and the Supreme Committee in the coming weeks where it is hoped progress can be made.”