Report on Human Rights in the Arab Region – 2018

   Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights publishes her Arab Report, based on Maat’s belief in the importance of the role of various UN mechanisms in promoting global peace and ending human rights violations against. The Arab report focuses on human rights issues from the perspective of UN mechanisms. The report uses a methodology which monitoring and analyzing the relation between Arab Countries and these mechanisms. As well, how those parties (Arab countries and UN) are dealing with each other on human rights issues and sustainable development in the Arab world during 2018. 

   This report discusses the Arab countries position on UN human rights mechanisms, in order to know to what extent these countries committed themselves to fulfil the pledges they made voluntarily to improve the human rights record. Besides its focus on the nature of the concerns of these mechanisms in the area of human rights inside the region. The report also presents a special section analyzing the most important achievements towards achieving the goals of sustainable development in the Arab countries during 2018. It pays special attention to the human rights situation under cases of occupation or/and conflict. Finally, the report includes an objective section on the impact of terrorism on the human rights situation in the Arab region.

   The report noted that the Human Rights Council adopted 15 resolutions on Arab issues, during the sessions held in 2018. Five of them concerning the occupied Arab territories of Palestine and the Golan which including a clear condemnation of Israeli practices in these areas. Whereas, four resolutions concerning the practices of the Syrian authority and some extremist groups supported by other countries. There are also two resolutions for Yemen, and one resolution for Libya, Sudan and Somalia, all related to technical support. As well as, a resolution suggested by Egypt to highlight the impact of terrorism on human rights and explicit call to refrain from providing support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including support in the establishment of hate propaganda platforms.

   Regarding the Treaty Bodies, during 2018, Iraq submitted its seventh periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, focusing on the crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq since 9 June 2014. Lebanon also submitted its report in response to the four prioritized recommendations addressed to it by the Committee against Torture. The Lebanese report referred to the adoption of Law No. 65 by the Lebanese legislator on September 20, 2017. This law related to the Punishment of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. And, the crime of torture was defined in accordance with article 1 of the Convention against Torture, Article 1 of the law. In the same year, Lebanon submitted its report to the Committee on Racial Discrimination, which contained the latest updates on the elimination of racial discrimination in Lebanon during the period from 2016 to 2018.

   Qatar also submitted its second periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, on 31 January 2018. According to this report, Qatar mentioned that there were 4 Qatari women got appointed for the first time to the Consultative Assembly. Regarding its compliance with the recommendations on nationality, the Qatari law doesn’t equate men and women in regard to the right of citizenship to children. However, it makes an advantage to Qatari women’s children by giving them priority in acquiring citizenship by naturalization. In the same context, the Human Rights Organizations submitted a shadow report to the committee, noting that Qatari law does not prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children. They wish if the committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women would raise the issue of violent punishment of girls and boys when reviewing the state of Qatar. As well, ensuring that no form of violence within the family is tolerated.

   The organizations also pointed out that discriminatory laws and traditional stereotypes regarding the role of Qatari women still remained, as women considered in the second degree to men. It also expressed concern about the absence of women in political life. As well as expressing concern about the issue of citizenship and a large number of children born from A Qatari mother and a foreign father. While the biggest concern was about withdrawing the nationalities of the Ghufran tribe, including women and their husbands and children, estimated at one thousand for each time because of the political position of these Arab tribes.

   During the year (2018), the Kingdom of Bahrain responded to a recommendation it had received during its discussion of the second and third periodic reports to the Committee against Torture in April 2017. It provided follow-up information on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and regular visits by independent monitoring bodies, including international bodies. As well as the expected visits of the United Nations human rights mechanisms referred to in paragraphs 13 (a), 23 (d) and 41. In contrast, human rights organizations reported that Bahrain had failed to implement the two recommendations 13 (a) and 41, and succeeded in implementing recommendation 23 (d).

   Bahrain also submitted its fourth report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), during the year. Through it, Bahrain reviewed the reality of the rights and advancement of Bahraini women. Specifically, how Bahraini women have gone beyond the traditional empowerment and rights gains, to be a main participant in the development process with its all dimensions. As well, their participation in the labour force and economic, social and cultural activity has increased.

   On the other hand, some human rights organizations submitted a shadow report recommending the prohibition of all forms of violent punishment of children and the enactment of legislation banning all corporal punishment of girls and boys clearly. They noted that Bahraini law does not prohibit corporal punishment that directly or indirectly affects children negatively.

   The State of Palestine also submitted its report to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The report pointed out that more than 70 years after the Nakba, statistics indicate that the percentage of Palestinian refugees reached just over half the number of Palestinians in the whole world. This percentage is almost equal With the Palestinian presence in the Palestinian territory.

   The report stressed that Israel, the occupying Power, practices all forms of racial discrimination in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly East Jerusalem. The Palestinians are subjected to all forms of racial discrimination and exclusion for their political, civil, social and economic rights. The siege imposed on the Gaza Strip is also a key element in Israel’s illegal practices, through which it exposes its racist exclusion and its blockade of two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

   It is worth noting that Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights participated in the 97th Session of the Committee on Racial Discrimination, which was held from 26 to 30 November 2018. Maat made two oral interventions at the NGO meeting with the 18 members of the Committee. As well as, Maat made an oral intervention to the Committee concerning the State of Qatar, highlighting all forms of racial discrimination against women, domestic and migrant workers and the Ghufran tribe. Most of Ghufran members were displaced and deprived from their Qatari nationality. In addition, the Association participated by the intervention on the State of Iraq. It addressing the cases of racial discrimination suffered by some groups in Iraq such as the Roma who suffering from exclusion and social marginalization. As well as the discrimination against minorities, especially in the electoral law. The intervention also highlighted the discriminatory practices carried out by ISIS.

   Concerning Special Rapporteurs and mandate holders, during 2018, 67 urgent appeals were sent to the Arab countries. At the level of the universal periodic review, during 2018, the human rights record of a number of Arab States has been reviewed. In January 2018, the United Arab Emirates reviewed its third national report, which adopted on June 29, 2018, in the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council. The UAE received 230 recommendations; 132 recommendations got support and 98 recommendations were taken.

   In May 2018, the State of Djibouti was also subject to the mechanism. It received 203 recommendations; accepting 177 recommendations and expressing reservation on 26 recommendations.

   On 25 November 2018, Saudi Arabia was subject to the universal periodic review mechanism, reviewing its third national report submitted during the 31st session on 20 August 2018. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was subject to the periodic review mechanism for the third time, On 8 November 2018.

   During 2018, several Arab countries submitted a voluntary report on the extent of achievement of sustainable development goals before the high-level political forum at United Nations Headquarter in New York in July 2018. In which Egypt submitted its second report after its first report was submitted in 2016. While, Bahrain submitted its first voluntary report to the HLPF, Qatar submitted its second voluntary report and Saudi Arabiasubmitted its first voluntary report.

   With regard to the elections and democracy in 2018, a group of Arab countries witnessed presidential, parliamentary or local elections, despite the differences in political systems. There were presidential elections in Egypt, parliamentary elections in Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, Mauritania and Djibouti, a constitutional referendum in Comoros, And local elections in Kuwait, Syria, Tunisia and Mauritania.

   The 2018 year witnessed the continuation of political and armed conflicts in a number of Arab countries, which led to a major humanitarian tragedy. Civilians suffer as a result of these conflicts the heavy toll of dead and wounded, displaced and asylum seekers. More than 70 million people need health assistance. One million internally displaced persons and 32 million people facing food insecurity. These conflicts are characterized by serious violations of extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and unfair mock trials.

   As for terrorism, the statistics indicate that the threat of terrorism continues to spread and some countries continue to support terrorist groups. The facts indicate that 16 Arab countries out of a total of 22 countries have witnessed terrorist crimes. The report pointed out the weakness of the coordination mechanisms in deterring terrorist organizations. It also reviewed the most important terrorist organizations responsible for terrorism and spreading terror and panic in the Arab region, which adopted terrorist acts and bombings in 2018.

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