Arab quartet accuses UN commission of Qatar bias

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt reject findings of an OHCHR report on the effects of the ongoing blockade on Qatar.

Gcc flags in Kuwait
The diplomatic crisis started when Saudi-led bloc imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar in June 2017 [File: Yasser al-Zayyat/AFP]

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have strongly condemned the results of a report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) on how severing diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar affected the country.

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, the blockading quartet said that the findings of OHCHR, whose members visited Qatar in November 2017, were misleading, inaccurate, and based on unfounded allegations, SPA news agency reported.

When documenting and assessing the effect of the blockade on human rights infringements and violations among Qatar’s population, the findings noted that the actions carried out by the four countries were discriminatory, without legal basis, amounting to “economic warfare”.

The four countries accused the commission of misunderstanding the historical context of the ongoing diplomatic crisis.

“The basis of this crisis goes back to the background of Qatar’s support for individuals and entities internationally involved in financing terrorism and supporting its activities, and promoting their extremist ideology, which incites violence and promotes hate speech in the Arab region through Qatari media platforms or funded through Qatari figures,” the statement read.

The countries also noted that it was within their “sovereign right” to cut ties with Doha in order to protect their national security interests.

According to the report, the measures taken by the quartet were unilateral, coercive and arbitrary that has had a permanent effect on the union of families and the social fabric of the region as a whole.

Earlier this month, Ali Bin Smaikh al-Marri, chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), told a news conference in Qatar’s capital, Doha, that the report proved the blockade was arbitrary and racist in nature.

“This report shows without a spec of doubt that these procedures undertaken by blockading countries are not mere diplomatic severing of relations, they are not just an economic boycott,” he said.

He also pointed out the OHCHR team reached out to the blockading countries before releasing the report, but received no response.

OHCHR representatives conducted interviews with 20 government and non-governmental organisations, and 40 victims during the course of their evaluation.

The diplomatic crisis started when the four countries imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar on June 5, 2017, accusing it of harbouring “terrorism”. Qatar has repeatedly denied the allegations. 

Source: Al Jazeera