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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UAE inflicted ‘maximum suffering’ on Qatari citizens, UN court hears

Qatar has been under blockade for more than three years [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 September, 2020

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Qatar’s representative to the International Court of Justice has accused the UAE of trying to inflict ‘maximum suffering’ on Qatari citizens during a three year blockade of the Gulf country.

Qatar on Wednesday accused the United Arab Emirates at the UN's top court of inflicting "maximum suffering" on Qataris as part of the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

Doha alleges that measures taken by Abu Dhabi after several Middle Eastern states severed ties with Qatar in 2017 breached a UN treaty against racial discrimination.

The two Gulf countries are arguing this week before the International Court of Justice in The Hague about whether the tribunal has the jurisdiction to deal with the case.

"The UAE seeks to avoid the jurisdiction of this court because it seeks to avoid the truth," Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, representing Qatar, told the court.

"This dispute is about the UAE's punitive discriminatory measures, which are intended to bend the state of Qatar to the UAE's political will by inflicting maximum suffering on the Qatari people."

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt cut relations with Qatar after accusing it of backing terrorism and siding with their regional rival Iran.

Doha has emphatically denied the charges.

Read more: GCC crisis explained - Why is Qatar under blockade by Saudi Arabia and its allies?

The four countries imposed a blockade by land, air and sea, and ordered the expulsion of Qatari nationals.

The alliance has issued a raft of terms Qatar must accept before it will lift the embargo. Qatar has rejected the terms and characterized them as an attempt to “impose hegemony” on it.

Doha took the UAE to the ICJ in 2018, saying it had breached the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

"The UAE's actions go to the very core of the evil the convention was designed to eradicate," said Al-Khulaifi.

The ICJ, set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between UN member states, is expected to decide in coming months whether the case can go ahead.

A final judgement could however take years, and while the ICJ's rulings are final, it has no means of enforcing them.

The case has gone Qatar's way so far, with the ICJ in 2018 ordering the UAE to take emergency measures to protect the rights of Qatari citizens.

Doha has also won a separate but related case at the ICJ in July that is specifically about the air blockade.




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