UN top court begins hearing Qatar lawsuit against UAE

Doha accuses the United Arab Emirates of discrimination against Qatar and its citizens.

    The case was prompted by the UAE and three other countries imposing a blockade against Qatar in June 2017 [Al Jazeera]
    The case was prompted by the UAE and three other countries imposing a blockade against Qatar in June 2017 [Al Jazeera]

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has begun hearing a lawsuit by Qatar against the United Arab Emirates (UAE), over a now year-long blockade against the Gulf nation.

    On Wednesday, lawyers for Qatar presented their case in front of the ICJ, while representatives of the UAE will present their arguments on Thursday. 

    "Qatar is accusing the UAE of discrimination against Qatar and its citizens and for violating the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination of which the UAE is a signatory," Al Jazeera's Neave Barker said from The Hague. 

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    "It's the main reason why only the UAE is the only one of the four countries that imposed the blockade on Qatar to be appearing here," Barker said.

    The blockade started on June 5, 2017, when the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Doha and expelled Qatari citizens.

    Mohammed Abdulaziz al-Khulaifi, one of Qatar's representatives at the hearing, said that there were no other channels for Qatari citizens to seek out justice. 

    "The UAE has fostered such an environment of hate against Qataris ... Individuals in the UAE are afraid of even speaking to family members living in Qatar," al-Khulaifi said. 

    The other blockading countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, are not signatories to this treaty.

    "The case itself will focus on some of the key issues in this fierce debate," Barker said.

    The case will focus mostly on the UAE decision to expel Qatari nationals from the country and the closing of UAE airspace to Qatari air traffic.

    Other arguments revolve around the UAE preventing its citizens from travelling to Qatar and to not let Qatari nationals travel go to or travel through the UAE.

    "Qatar also argues that companies and individuals were denied access to property and assets and medical access," Barker said.

    Qatar's National Human Rights Committee estimated the blockade has affected about 13,000 people.

    The committee recorded 4,105 cases of human rights violations in the last year, including 646 family reunification violations.

    Saudi Arabia closed Qatar's only land border and - together with the UAE and Bahrain - shuttered its airspace to Qatar Airways. 

    Qatar, which has denied all the blockading countries' allegations vehemently, is saying it is being punished for having an independent foreign policy.

    The Siege of Qatar

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    The Siege of Qatar

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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