Annual Report: Qatar 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Qatar 2010

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Head of state Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
Head of government Shaikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr
al-Thani

Death penalty retentionist
Population 1.4 million
Life expectancy 75.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 10/10 per 1,000
Adult literacy 93.1 per cent

Women faced discrimination and violence. Migrant workers were exploited and abused, and inadequately protected under the law. Hundreds of people continued to be arbitrarily deprived of their nationality. Sentences of flogging were passed. Death sentences continued to be handed down, although no executions were carried out.

Discrimination and violence against women

Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice and were inadequately protected against violence within the family. Family law makes it much easier for men to divorce than women.

Despite a 2008 reform to the law on compensation equalizing provisions for men and women, an appeal court in April overturned a lower court's decision that had adhered to the reform and ruled that compensation for the death of a woman and her daughter was to be valued at half that of her husband and their son, in accordance with Shari'a law.

In April, Qatar acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women but with reservations relating to equality of women under the law, within marriage and in terms of guardianship of children.

Freedom of expression

At least 11 foreign nationals were convicted of blasphemy, three of whom received maximum seven year prison sentences for using words considered insulting to Islam. They included a Syrian man convicted of "insulting Islam in a fit of rage" for uttering a blasphemous word when the credit on his mobile phone ran out during a conversation. The court also ordered that he be deported. It was not clear whether the prison sentence was enforced in his and other cases.

At least 52 other foreign nationals were convicted of charges relating to "illicit sexual relations" and either deported or sentenced to imprisonment followed by deportation.

Debate continued about a possible new press and publications law to replace Law No.8 of 1979, which prescribes imprisonment for criticizing religion, the army and the Emir.

Migrants' rights

Migrant workers, who make up more than 80 per cent of Qatar's population, continued to be exposed to, and inadequately protected against, abuses and exploitation by employers. Women migrant domestic workers were particularly at risk of exploitation and abuses such as beatings, rape and other sexual violence.

A new sponsorship law passed in February to regulate the entry, exit, residence and work of foreign nationals introduced some improvements. Notably, it requires that sponsor employers no longer retain employees' passports after visa formalities have been completed. It also allows women employees in independent employment to sponsor the entry into and residence in Qatar of their husbands and children.

Discrimination - denial of nationality

The government continued to deny Qatari nationality to hundreds of people who were consequently denied employment opportunities, social security and health care in Qatar, or denied entry to the country. They had no means of remedy before the courts. Most were members of al-Murra tribe, which was partly blamed for a coup attempt in 1996.