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Qatar: Amir Ratifies Country’s First Asylum Law

(Nov. 8, 2018) On September 4, 2018, the amir of Qatar ratified Law No. 11 of 2018 Regulating Political Asylum. (His Highness Issues Law Regulating Political Asylum, AL-SHARQ (Sept. 4, 2018); Law No. 11 of 2018 Regulating Political Asylum, AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYAH [OFFICIAL GAZETTE], vol. 15, 12 Oct. 2018, pp. 9–16, Ministry of Justice’s Al-Meezan legal portal.) This Law is the first in the nation’s history governing political asylum (despite the fact that Qatar is not a state party to the UN’s 1951 refugee convention and its 1967 protocol.) (Status As At: 07-11-2018,Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, UN Treaty Collection (UNTC); Status as at 07-11-2018, Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, UNTC.)

Law No. 11 of 2018 consists of 18 articles, most of which are described below.

  • Article 1 defines “political asylees” as any persons outside their country of nationality or habitual residency if they not citizens who are unable or unwilling to return to that country due to a justified fear of execution or bodily punishment, torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, or persecution on account of their ethnicity, religion, or affiliation with a specific social group, or due to their political beliefs. (Law No. 11 of 2018, art. 1.)
  • Article 3 of the Law prohibits the government of Qatar from providing the following types of individuals with an asylum status:

(1)  Individuals who commit serious nonpolitical crimes outside the state of Qatar

(2)  Individuals who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity

(3)  Individuals who commit crimes or acts against the objectives of the United Nations

(4)  Individuals who are dual citizens (Id. art. 3.)

  • Article 4 establishes a Committee for Political Asylees affiliated with the Ministry of Interior (homeland security). (Id. art. 4.)
  • Article 6 provides that the minister of interior has the legal right to grant a person applying for asylum three months of temporary residency, subject to renewal, until a final decision is made. (Id. art. 6.)
  • Article 7 stipulates that the Committee for Asylum Seekers at the Ministry of Interior is to refer the asylum petition to the minister with its recommendation. The interior minister must decide on an asylum petition within three months of receiving a recommendation from the Committee. However, if the petitioner does not receive a response from the Ministry within one month, this constitutes a rejection of the petition. (Id. art. 7.)
  • Article 8 allows rejected asylum petitioners to appeal to the prime minister within 30 days from the day they were notified of the rejection of the asylum application. The prime minister must respond to the appeal within 30 days. (Id. art. 8.)
  • Article 9 grants asylum seekers the following benefits:

(1) The right to obtain a travel document

(2) The right to employment

(3) The right to be granted monthly cash assistance

(4) Health care

(5) The opportunity to enroll in the public schools and universities of Qatar

(6) Freedom of worship and transportation

(7) The right to bring their spouses and children into Qatar (Id. art. 9.)

  • Article 10 requires refugees and asylum seekers to obtain the approval of the Qatari authorities if they want to move from their place of residence. The authorities also have the right to limit the movement of the asylum seekers. (Id. art. 10.)
  • Article 11 prohibits asylum seekers and recognized refugees from engaging in political activities while residing in Qatar. (Id. art. 11.)
  • Article 12 repeals the asylum status of foreign nationals if they acquire Qatari citizenship. However, the Law does not specify the process of applying for Qatari citizenship. (Id. art. 12(4).)
  • Article 15 prohibits returning refugees or asylum seekers to their countries of origin or to another country in which they will be in danger or subject to persecution. (Id. art. 15.)