The UN human rights chief said on Wednesday he was alarmed by the possible impact of the diplomatic isolation of Qatar, warning it could lead to widespread suffering among ordinary people.
“I am alarmed about the possible impact on many people’s human rights in the wake of the decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain to cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
The four states, which have branded dozens of people and entities with alleged links to Qatar as terrorists, must respect citizens’ rights, Zeid said.
“It is becoming clear that the measures being adopted are overly broad in scope and implementation, and have the potential to seriously disrupt the lives of thousands of women, children and men, simply because they belong to one of the nationalities involved in the dispute,” he added.
‘Human rights violation’
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain appear to be violating people’s human rights by threatening to jail or fine them for expressing sympathy for Qatar, the UN human rights chief said.
“I am also extremely troubled to hear that the UAE and Bahrain are threatening to jail and fine people who express sympathy for Qatar or opposition to their own governments’ actions, as this would appear to be a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression or opinion.”
Zeid pointed out that directives issued by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to address the humanitarian needs of families with joint nationalities appeared to be inadequate, and his office had received reports of specific individuals being ordered to return home or to leave the country they are residing in.
“Among those likely to be badly affected are couples in mixed marriages, and their children; people with jobs or businesses based in states other than that of their nationality; and students studying in another country,” he said.