The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, has praised the outcomes of the International Conference on “Social Media: Challenges and Ways to Promote Freedoms and Protect Activists”.
The conference was organised by the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in co-operation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), European Parliament, International Federation of Journalists, and International Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.
Addressing a press conference, Eamon Gilmore expressed appreciation and admiration for the recommendations made at various workshops and meetings, adding that OHCHR will study these recommendations.
The official referred to the numerous challenges facing this digital age, including blocking the Internet service, preventing communications and blocking social media and the risks posed by them on human rights, stressing that the promotion of human rights is an integral part of the EU’s foreign policy, and that human rights is a global issue.
The official pointed out that his discussions with the Qatari side focused on the work carried out by the European Union regarding freedom of expression, social media and digital media, in addition to the various ways to support civil society and provide financial and practical support that can be provided to activists and human rights defenders, as well as addressing fears of external interference, especially during election periods and others.
He said talks with the Qatari side also allowed looking into the work and welfare conditions of workers, Gilmore said pointing out that he visited a construction site and met with migrant workers and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, where he obtained a summary on the conditions and welfare of expatriate workers, employed in the preparations of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Gilmore expressed his appreciation for the co-operation between the authorities in Qatar and the International Labour Organisation, considering it to be “very important”, and valuing the degree of progress and improvement made in working and workers’ conditions in Qatar. He further emphasised the importance of legislation related to workers conditions and welfare, and the need to ensure the continuity of these improvements after the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
He pointed out that his consultations with officials from various authorities in Qatar, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, the National Human Rights Committee and the International Labour Organisation, touched on the topic of delaying the payment of workers’ wages, calling on companies to ensure that wages are paid to workers on time.
On the issue of freedom of expression, he said that he had meetings with HE the Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri and HE Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Ahmed bin Hassan al-Hammadi, noting that discussion of this issue was the main reason behind the large participation of European Union officials in the International Conference on Social Media.
The official stated that his meeting with HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and HE Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri also touched on issues related to women’s rights and ensuring the protection of the rights of women and men alike.
In response to a question about his meeting with the workers at the work site, he explained that what attracted attention during this meeting was that the workers’ answers to his questions were identical to the answers of the officials, indicating that many factors are taken into consideration when assessing the labour situation.
He pointed out that the improvements made by Qatar with regard to the welfare of workers and working conditions in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup will continue after hosting the tournament and will be reflected on the Qatari economy in general.
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