The United Arab Emirates has strongly refuted accusations of racial discrimination brought against it by Qatar.
A special session of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva saw both sides lay out their arguments, with the UAE issuing a strongly-worded statement against Qatari accusations, which it says “have no legal basis”.
Qatar made the complaint to the committee on March 8 2018, claiming actions the UAE took following a breakdown in relations between the two states and subsequent boycott of Qatar by the Quartet of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt in 2017 contravened the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The UAE, however, says the complaint is political, adding that actions taken against Qatar as a nation were not meant to maliciously target Qatari individuals.
"The UAE has instituted a requirement for all Qatari citizens overseas to obtain prior permission for entry into the UAE. Qatari citizens already resident in the UAE need not apply for permission to continue residence in the UAE,” the statement presented to the Committee on Friday read.
“However, all Qatari citizens resident in the UAE are encouraged to obtain prior permission for re-entry into UAE territory. All applications for entry clearance may be made for free online or through a telephone hotline announced in June 2017.”
The statement added that requiring prior permission to enter a country is standard global practice. "It cannot be labelled as racial discrimination. Neither does it violate the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination."
"Doha’s complaint before the Committee is part of a malicious Qatari campaign based on falsehoods and aimed at distracting attention from the dire consequences of Qatar’s state-sponsored terrorism," the statement read.
Abdullah Hamdan Al Naqbi, Director of the International Law Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and UAE representative before the committee, said that the complaint should not have been lodged in the first place as it had no connection to any form of racial discrimination.
"The UAE measures regarding the Qatari citizens are compliant with international law and can’t be classified under any forms of racial segregation combated by the Committee whose mandate is to fight all forms of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin. Accordingly, the UAE can never be accused of violating the agreement in any way."
The Qataris have also lodged a complaint with the International Court of Justice on the issue, which the UAE says further proves “it has no effective response to the compelling arguments of the UAE”.
"Qatar's malicious campaigns are meant to inflict damage on the Boycotting Quartet. Instead, Doha should have reconsidered its support for terrorism and extremism," the UAE representative concluded, expressing the UAE's belief that "Qatar’s tendency to lodge complaints further undermines its reputation and will backfire."