The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) chairman has highlighted the initiatives taken by Qatar to protect the rights of migrant labourers in the country during a panel discussion at Doha Forum 2019. “Human rights bodies are neither part of the government nor of civil societies. We are in the middle of both of them,” said HE Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri.
HE Dr al-Marri was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Preserving Human Rights in Times of Crises’, which also featured Irene Khan, director-general, International Development Law Organisation; Dr Ahmed al-Meraikhi, UN Secretary-General’s Humanitarian Envoy, United Nations; and Dr Danilo Turk, emeritus professor of international law at University in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The session was moderated by Bill law, editor, ‘Arab Digest’.
“The Government of Qatar has initiated a number of measures over the years to protect the rights of migrant workers in the country. The Government has adopted the policy to pay salaries through bank transfer; other systems such as the exit permit for most employees has been removed and employees have been allowed to change  jobs,” he explained.
“The government has also set up a migrant workers’ fund and opened an office of the International Labour Organisation in the country. Steps have also been taken to pay minimum wages to all without any discrimination,” he continued.
He also said the Gulf crisis has violated human rights. “We monitor all the violations and there are many. Don’t put the people in crisis and the governments should solve political issues separately,” he noted.
Turk stated that the human rights situation is more relevant than ever in recent times. “Everyone is entitled to human rights and it is related in a context rather than in isolation. Human rights are universal and they must be part of the lives of each and every person,” he highlighted. Al-Meraikhi pointed out that there are international covenants on human rights that must be implemented in the true spirit. “We need to balance between the needs of the people and human rights.
“This must be adhered more during a crisis and the needs of the situation,” he added.
Khan said human rights are violated in many cases around the world but women’s human rights are more violated than other segments of the society.
“There is always discrimination against women and their rights are the least cared for. They need to be protected, given priorities and treated on a par with others,” she argued.
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