The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Qatar

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #freedom #human_rights #politics #qatar #tolerance

Qatar
State of Qatar

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index80th best
CapitalDoha
Land Area 11 610km21
LocationAsia, The Middle East
Population2.8m2
Life Expectancy78.32yrs (2017)3
GNI$129 916 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesQA, QAT, 6345
Internet Domain.qa6
CurrencyRial (QAR)7
Telephone+9748

Qatar is amongst the worst places in the world at ensuring human rights and freedom, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Qatar does better than average for commentary in Human Rights Watch reports9. But that's it. Qatar has problems. It does worse than average for supporting press freedom10 (still low for Asia), supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms11, speed of uptake of HR treaties12, opposing gender inequality13 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights14. And finally, it sits amongst the bottom 20 when it comes to its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice15 and in LGBT equality16 (amongst the lowest in Asia). Progress is not helped by the fact that the richest 1% hold 29% of the country's entire income17.


1. Qatar's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)18,19
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank18,19
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
145Bahamas115.5
146Dominica115.8
147Cameroon116.1
148Qatar117.2
149St Lucia117.8
150Oman118.7
151Liberia119.1
152Turkmenistan121.3
153Papua New Guinea121.3
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway18. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine18.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe18, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia18.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)9
Pos.Higher is better
Score9
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
61Papua New Guinea-3
62Belarus-3
63India-3
64Qatar-3
65Tanzania-3
66Ecuador-3
67Colombia-3
68Bolivia-3
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)14
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties14
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
155Saudi Arabia10
156Laos10
157Solomon Islands10
158Qatar10
159Vatican City10
160India10
161Fiji10
162Vietnam10
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)12
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty12
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
116Chad11.23
117Slovakia11.24
118Burundi11.27
119Qatar11.34
120Vatican City11.34
121Latvia11.39
122Angola11.59
123Cameroon11.63
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)11
Pos.Lower is better
Rank11
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
114Kuwait111
115Malaysia115
116Russia115
117Qatar117
118UAE118
119Guinea-Bissau118
120Oman120
121Timor-Leste (E. Timor)120
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)20

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)10
Pos.Lower is better10
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
106Fiji3269
107Brazil3275
108Bolivia3280
109Qatar3286
110Panama3295
111Montenegro3297
112Israel3297
113UAE3349
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)21
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims21
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
12Hong Kong0.14
13Kuwait0.15
14Luxembourg0.15
15Qatar0.15
16Denmark0.16
17Paraguay0.16
18Sweden0.16
19Ireland0.17
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory22. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends23. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life24. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves25.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery26. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity27. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.28. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi21, Eritrea21, Indonesia29) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery30.

[In 2017] Qatar... ratified Law No.15 on service workers in the home... which will grant labor protections for the first time to Qatar´s 173,742 domestic workers. The new law guarantees domestic workers a maximum 10-hour workday, a weekly rest day, three weeks of annual leave, an end-of-service payment of at least three weeks per year, and healthcare benefits.

However, the new law is still weaker than the Labor Law and does not fully conform to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention, the global treaty on domestic workers´ rights.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)31

Other serious labour protections are missing however, and there may be hundreds of preventable deaths annually as a result of poor labour protection law in the construction industry, especially regarding provisions to prevent heart attacks during the hottest hours of the day31.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Qatar is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women.

Qatar, like many other Islamic countries, "discriminates against women by not allowing them to pass nationality to their children on the same basis as men"31 but in 2017 it partially rectified this by approving a draft law to allow "permanent residence for children of Qatari women married to non-Qataris"31.

Qatar´s Law No. 22 of 2006 on Family and Personal Status continues to discriminate against women. Under article 36, a marriage contract is valid when a woman´s male guardian concludes the contract and two male witnesses are present. Article 58 states that it is a wife´s responsibility to look after the household and to obey her husband.

Other than article 57 of the family law forbidding husbands from hurting their wives physically or morally, and general provisions on assault, the penal code does not criminalize domestic violence or marital rape.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)31

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)13
Pos.Lower is better13
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
125India0.53
126Zimbabwe0.54
127Gabon0.54
128Qatar0.54
129Tanzania0.54
130Pakistan0.55
131Ghana0.55
132Lesotho0.55
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
182Samoa1990
183Kazakhstan1993
184Moldova1994
185Oman1994
186Qatar2003
187Kuwait2005
188Saudi Arabia0
189Vatican City0
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)15
Pos.Lower is better
%15
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
89Oman76
90Lebanon78
91Morocco80
92Qatar80
93UAE80
94Jordan81
95Bahrain81
96Kuwait82
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews32,33,34,35. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East36, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews37,38. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"39. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males40.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

No form of gay marriage is recognized in Qatar, and, sex outside of marriage is illegal, therefore, Qatar criminalizes homosexuality.

Qatar´s penal code punishes “sodomy” with one to three years in prison. Muslims convicted of zina (sex outside of marriage) can be sentenced to flogging (if unmarried) or the death penalty (if married). Non-Muslims can be sentenced to imprisonment.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)31

LGBT Equality (2017)16
Pos.Higher is better
Score16
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
189Libya-42
190Morocco-42
191Solomon Islands-44
192Qatar-54
193Sudan-67
194Saudi Arabia-72
195Somalia-79
196Syria-84
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence41. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws42. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries41. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#islam #qatar #saudi_arabia

Qatar belongs to the same puritanical Wahhabi branch of Islam as Saudi Arabia, its neighbour43 but it (unfairly) only applies its most restrictive religious laws to locals - so they shelve their traditional attire and sneak out en masse in the evening, as the only way of having a free life away from their own opressive law. Some Islamist Qataris are unhappy that Islam is not universally applied43 and if they get their way in the future, the upholding of human rights in Qatar could worsen.

Once-upon-a-time, extremist Wahhabi preachers would go to Qatar if they were unwelcome in Saudi Arabia, "and Osama bin Laden is said to have stopped by"43. But culturally, it is liberal. Although this is because the vast majority of people there are not local, but also because the state permits it.

With the dawn of a new millennium Qatar has entered a different league. [There are] nightclubs on hotel rooftops [...], bars advertise happy hours on its beaches and a state-owned distribution centre supplies not just liqour but pork. [...] Women drive and there are no religious police forcing businesses to shut during prayer times.

The Economist (2016)44

But there is definite unhappiness amongst Qataris about the direction that their country has taken. Traditionally, Islamic law is enforced on all people by the state. But Qatar has now become half-free. One confused cleric in an Islamic Center complains that "we're not an Islamic state" and so says that Muslims like him are oppressed43 - precisely because of the absence of restrictive enforcements. Native Qataris are still banned from bars and liquor stores, and Christian churches cannot display crucifixes and instead have signs that say "Religious Centre"43. So the Cleric has it wrong. Qatar is still a theocracy, and Qataris are still oppressed, by their own religious doctrine. His true complaint is that Islam isn't enforced strictly enough on those who do not want it - Qataris sneak out of their national dress and buy alcohol secretly43, en masse, and he feels powerless to stop them - good!

To end oppression, the state should embrace a more honest, secular outlook, where all are free to adhere to religious restrictions in accordance with their beliefs - the cleric, like all in Qatar, are free to refrain from alcohol in accordance with the Quran. But they should also be free to buy it, when they wish.