The Hague (AFP) – Qatar Wednesday will launch an urgent case before the UN’s highest court against United Arab Emirates, accusing it of human rights violations after its Gulf neighbours cut all ties with Doha last year.
During a three-day hearing at the International Court of Justice, judges will hears arguments by Doha’s lawyers, with the UAE to respond on Thursday. Both will talk on Friday.
The case comes a year after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Doha on June 5, 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran. Doha denies the allegations.
Qatar, a small peninsula nation, found its only land border closed, its state-owned airline barred from using its neighbours’ airspace, and Qatari residents expelled from the boycotting countries.
It filed its case before the body based in The Hague earlier this month, saying the “UAE… implemented a series of discriminatory measures directed at Qataris based on their national origin,” resulting in alleged human rights violations.
It has asked the court — which rules in disputes between countries — to urgently order the UAE to “cease and desist from all conduct that could result… in any form of racial discrimination against Qatari individuals and entities”.
Doha is basing its claim on the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), one of the first global human rights treaties to be adopted.
Both Qatar and the UAE are signatories of the convention.
“The unlawful measures imposed by UAE have torn apart families,” the Qatari foreign ministry said earlier this month, in a statement quoting Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
“The UAE deprived Qatari companies and individuals of property and assets and denied fundamental access to education, medicine and justice in the UAE courts,” he added.
Qatar also accused the UAE of shutting down Al Jazeera Media network’s offices and blocking the transmission of Al Jazeera and other Qatari media outlets.
Diplomatic efforts have so far proved fruitless in what was previously one of the most stable regions in the Arab world.
– ‘Onus on Qatar’ –
Qatar said the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty and punishment for pursuing an independent foreign policy.
Doha is demanding “full reparation, including compensation for the harm suffered as a result of the UAE’s actions in violation of the CERD,” it said in papers before the court.
On the eve of the June 5 anniversary, Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee released a report claiming more than 4,000 human rights abuses had been committed against Qataris by the Saudi-led alliance in the past year.
Qataris have been exposed to arbitrary arrest and routinely denied freedom of movement, the report by the government-appointed body said.
The UAE in return has said the “onus is on Qatar if it really wanted to come out of its isolation”.
Doha has been handed a list of 13 demands by its Gulf neighbours, including closing Al Jazeera, removing Turkish troops from the country and scaling back its cooperation with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field. It has not met any of them.