Qatar as First Gulf State to Offer Asylum

Qatar as First Gulf State to Offer Asylum

By QLNews

The Human Rights Watch has called Qatar's landmark law offering political asylum "a positive step” but have also voiced that the law falls short of international obligations and still imposes constraints on freedom of movement and expression.

In a statement, the deputy HRW Middle East director Lama Fakih, stated, ”Qatar’s asylum law is a huge step forward in a region made up of wealthy states that have historically shut their doors to refugees” and voiced her concerns that Qatar should amend the law so that it is in harmony with certain obligations reinforced by the international human rights and refugee law.

Aside from the law that abolished exit permits for migrant workers, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also passed a legislation that allowed people to apply for permanent residency for the first time in Qatar. The new law accommodates any person "unable or unwilling to return" to his home country due to substantial reasons such as fear of execution, political complications, affiliation with a group or political beliefs etc. “We hope this law is not only used to protect people affected by the diplomatic crisis, but that it will more broadly grant anyone with a well-founded fear of persecution a safe home in the country,” Fakih added.

 Amid ongoing political tensions between Middle-Eastern nations, and the eviction of many migrants previously residing in countries experiencing the blockade, the new laws now provides as promise of protection and security for them and many others.

Nonetheless, the HRW claims that the asylum law impedes the refugees from gaining basic residential rights in Qatar, like engaging in political activity and free movement across the country. Additionally, the law also permits previously refused asylum petitioner to solely appeal to the prime minister without the presence of juridical tribunal or court to assess the situation.

 With Qatar joining the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treaty earlier this year, the HRM states that the asylum laws passed violate the treaty. In recent years, the Gulf have faced hardship and influence from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to sign and initiate legal systems for refugees.

 


Sources: HRW, Aljazeera, The Peninsula.

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