Head of state: Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
Head of government: Shaikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 1.5 million
Life expectancy: 76 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 10/10 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 93.1 per cent
Women continued to face discrimination and violence. Migrant workers were exploited and abused, and inadequately protected under the law. Around 100 people remained arbitrarily deprived of their nationality. Sentences of flogging were passed. Death sentences continued to be upheld, although no executions were carried out.
In June, a woman was appointed as a judge, for the first time in Qatar, to the Court of First Instance.
Qatar’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in June. Qatar was urged to fulfil its human rights obligations, including by reviewing and repealing laws that discriminate against women. In May, Qatar was re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council.
The Penal Code was amended in June to extensively define torture and intimidation; however, it retains the death penalty as a possible punishment in cases where torture leads to death.
Discrimination and violence against women
Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice and were inadequately protected against violence within the family.
Freedom of expression
At least six foreign nationals were convicted of blasphemy, four of whom received maximum seven-year prison sentences. In July, for example, the Doha Court of First Instance sentenced a Lebanese man to seven years’ imprisonment for blasphemy; he was reported to have “uttered blasphemous words” while being carried on a stretcher to an ambulance. It was not clear whether the prison sentence was enforced in this and other cases.
At least 90 people, mostly foreign nationals, were convicted of charges relating to “illicit sexual relations” and either deported or sentenced to imprisonment followed in some cases by deportation. Two men were convicted of sodomy and two other men had their sentences for the same “offence” upheld.
A draft press and publications law to replace Law No 8 of 1979 was approved by the Cabinet but had not been enacted by the end of the year.
Migrant workers, who make up more than 80 per cent of Qatar’s population, continued to be exposed to abuses and exploitation by employers, despite recent amendments to labour laws. In November, the Prime Minister announced that the sponsorship system was being reviewed and may be amended.
Discrimination – denial of nationality
The government continued to deny Qatari nationality to around 100 people, most of them members of al-Murra tribe that was partly blamed for a coup attempt in 1996. They were consequently denied employment opportunities, social security and health care, or denied entry to the country, and had no means of remedy before the courts.
Freedom of movement
- Rashid al-Amoodi was informed that he was banned from travelling on 4 July 2009 when he sought to travel from Doha to Dubai. His travel ban was still in force at the end of 2010, although he was not formally informed of it by the authorities or given any opportunity to challenge it. The government gave no reason for the ban.
Detention without charge or trial
Criminal suspects were reported to have been detained without charge or trial.
- Mohamed Farouk El Mahdy, a UK citizen, was arrested on 15 October 2009 and held without charge or trial until his release on bail on 14 September 2010. He was held in connection with a client of his former employer who was alleged to have defaulted on a loan.
Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments
At least 21 people, mostly foreign nationals, were sentenced to floggings of between 30 and 100 lashes for offences related to “illicit sexual relations” or alcohol consumption. Only Muslims considered medically fit were liable to have such sentences carried out. It was not known if any of the sentences were implemented.
The appeal court confirmed at least three death sentences. At least 17 people were believed to be under sentence of death at the end of the year, including at least seven sentenced to death in 2001 for involvement in the 1996 coup attempt. No executions were reported.
In December, Qatar was one of the minority of states that voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.