ABU DHABI // An Arab human rights group has condemned the Qatari government’s use of the word “blockade” to describe the measures taken by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to isolate Qatar over what the countries say is its support for extremism.
The steps to sever land, sea and air travel and commerce ties between the bloc of countries and Qatar, as well as the expulsion of Qatari nationals, is legally a boycott, not a blockade or embargo, according to the Geneva-based Arab Federation for Human Rights.
“A boycott is a sovereign right of all countries to establish or sever diplomatic ties with any country, in case the latter seeks to stir unrest and insecurity amongst the international community,” the AFHR report stated, adding that calling the steps a blockade is “not justifiable”.
The AFHR also said that under international law definitions, an embargo is a coercive action against a country that has the approval of the United Nations Security Council, under the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN charter, and is backed by the legitimate threat of military force.
The report refuted claims by the Qatar National Human Rights Committee that the isolation amounted to a blockade. “Such a description lacks objectivity and aims merely for gaining international sympathy,” it said.
The Arab rights group also said that both the European Union and the Russian Federation had rejected the term “blockade” in favour of “boycott”.
The report quoted the US acting treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who has previously said that “Qatar has shown a lack of political will to implement anti-terrorist financing laws effectively”.