Vice-Chairman of National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Dr Mohamed Saif al-Kuwari affirmed that the practice of enforced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity as defined in international law, adding that there is no exceptional circumstance, whether a state of war or the threat of war, internal political instability or any other exception, may be invoked to justify enforced disappearance.
In a press statement on the occasion of the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance, al-Kuwari said that In the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the international community is determined to prevent enforced disappearances and to combat impunity for perpetrators.
He expressed his concern over the persistence of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in the Gulf crisis, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed an unfair blockade on the State of Qatar and its citizens and residents.
In this regard, he noted that despite the release of several Qatari nationals by the Saudi authorities after they had been subjected to unjustified enforced disappearance, they are still holding a Qatari student since July 2018, without trial.
He also pointed out that many citizens in the Gulf region have become unsafe for themselves from this phenomenon, especially human rights activists, and many of them retain their views for fear of being subjected to enforced disappearance or arbitrary detention, especially under the law enacted by some blockade countries, which prevents even sympathising with the State of Qatar.
Al-Kuwari pointed out that about two weeks ago, NHRC received confirmed information from reliable sources concerning the enforced disappearance of Qatari national Ali Nasser Ali Jarallah, aged 70, and his son Abdul Hadi, aged 17, in Saudi Arabia, after the Qatari citizen and his son entered Saudi Arabia under a family permit on Thursday, August 15, 2019.
He noted that the information received by NHRC indicated that they had been forcibly disappeared on Sunday, August 18, 2019, at 1pm, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where they were arrested by the Saudi authorities, and hidden in an unknown location.
He added that the blockade states have always fabricated false pretexts to detain and expose Qatari citizens wherever they go, in violation of all international human rights instruments and conventions.
Al-Kuwari explained that reports by international organisations indicated that victims of enforced disappearance include all races, even children, but the vast majority are men, and that disappeared persons are at high risk of torture because they are isolated from the protection of the law with no possibility of legal defense.
They are at increased risk of other human rights violations amounting to murder, he added.
Vice-Chairman of NHRC pointed out that the preamble to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance took into account the right of everyone to be free from enforced disappearance and the right of victims to justice and compensation.
It also affirmed the right of every victim to know the truth about the circumstances of enforced disappearance and to know the fate of the disappeared person, as well as the right to freely collect, receive and disseminate information to that end, he added.
The preamble to the convention had also called on all States parties to take appropriate measures to investigate the protection of persons from being subjected to enforced disappearances by persons or groups of individuals, to bring those involved in such violations to justice, and to put in place the necessary measures to make enforced disappearance a crime in their criminal law, al-Kuwari added.
On April 14 and 15, NHRC organised the International Conference on National, Regional and International Mechanisms to Combat Impunity and Ensure Accountability under International Law, in co-operation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Parliament and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, he said.
The conference aimed to develop a real and practical vision developed by a selection of international policymakers and experts to seriously and effectively hold perpetrators of abuses around the world who found in the policy of impunity a sanctuary of accountability and a green light for continuing grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, al-Kuwari added.
He pointed out that the recommendations of the conference were a real beginning of a long path towards achieving the rule of law and there is no impunity, as well as a strong start in the hope of finding practical solutions to redress victims.
The international community has been keen to protect people from enforced disappearance through an integrated international convention, but there are still those who are trying to circumvent international law in flagrant violation of human rights, he said.
Al-Kuwari called for the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance to be an important occasion to investigate such cases in all parts of the world, to bring all those responsible to fair trials, to compensate those affected by enforced disappearances, and to mark this day as an occasion to remind all states of their international obligations in this regard.
He stressed that this day must express a human rights demonstration condemning all crimes of enforced disappearance, whether those responsible states or individuals, especially those who market themselves in international forums and hide under their smiles a record of human rights violations in all areas.
Al-Kuwari reiterated NHRC's calls for all bodies and international organizations concerned with human rights and the working group on arbitrary detention and the working group on enforced disappearances to work for the release of the Qatari student whose health began to decline in the custody of the Saudi authorities.
In the 1992 declaration of the victims of enforced disappearance, the UN General Assembly stressed that it was necessary to prevent enforced disappearances to ensure strict adherence to a set of principles relating to the protection of the rights of persons subjected to any form of detention or imprisonment and the principles of effective prevention and investigation of extrajudicial killing and arbitrary execution, al-Kuwari explained.
It also considered that enforced disappearances undermined the most profound values of any society committed to respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and that the systematic practice of such acts is a crime against the law, he added.
Al-Kuwari said that NHRC demands, as stated in the declaration, accurate information on the detention of a Qatari citizen, including the movement of a Qatari citizen from one place to another, and that such information be made available to the families of the victims, their lawyers or any other person with a legitimate interest in taking this information.
He called for providing appropriate compensation to the Qatari citizens and their families, who are victims of these cases, including the means to ensure their full rehabilitation.