Egypt called on Qatar to end “arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances” against Qatari nationals, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday, citing a speech delivered by Egypt’s representative at a United Nations meeting held to review Qatar’s human rights situation.
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also delivered speeches during the Third Period Review held by the UN Human Rights Council for Qatar and 13 other countries as part of the Universal Periodic Review process.
The three Arab countries called on Qatar to remove barriers that hinder Qataris and expatriates working in Qatar from performing the Islamic pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia.
In their speeches, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain also asked Qatar to “stop funding terrorist groups and respect the rights of migrant workers,” the official Saudi news agency added.
On its part, Qatar expressed concerns about the arbitrary measures it has been subjected to by the three countries as well as the United Arab Emirates since June 2017 when they severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a land, air and sea blockade.
Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan Bin Saad Al-Muraikhi told the UN meeting that these measures result in long-term violations of human rights such as the right to free movement, private property, work, education and freedom of speech and expression. The embargo also separates families, Al-Murakhi told the UN meeting, according to the official website of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He pointed out that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a technical mission to Qatar in 2017 to assess the blockade’s impact on human rights. In its report, the commission concluded that the measures imposed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE constituted “key elements of the definition of unilateral coercive action as defined by the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council” and that “most of these measures have far-reaching implications for the enjoyment of human rights.”
The criticism of Qatar comes at a time when Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have all come under heavy criticism for their human rights abuses. Rights groups have repeatedly condemned Egypt’s use of “enforced disappearance” to silence dissent, with opposition activists being repeatedly targeted. Saudi’s abuses of foreign workers from the Indian subcontinent have also come under attack. Amnesty International has repeatedly highlighted the plight of tens of thousands of workers who were fired without having been paid for months and who were left stranded without food, water or exit visas.
While Human Rights Watch has said that in Bahrain “civilian and military courts continue to convict and imprison peaceful dissenters, including prominent human rights defenders and opposition leaders, under the guise of national security.” Adding that “since 2011, authorities have failed to credibly investigate and prosecute officials and police officers who allegedly committed violations, including torture.”