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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

ICJ issues ‘provisional measures’ in Qatar government case

Court rejects six of nine requested after Abu Dhabi presented evidence to counter Doha’s claims of discrimination

The International Court of Justice in The Hague. John Thys / AFP 
The International Court of Justice in The Hague. John Thys / AFP 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday narrowly recommended three “provisional measures” requested by Doha that the UAE says it is already adhering to, while rejecting six others, as the court considers in full a case filed by Qatar based on allegations of discrimination.

In June, Doha filed a complaint in the ICJ that alleged the UAE’s boycott of the country – alongside Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt – for its support of terror groups and militant factions violated the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which both countries are signatories.

Qatar requested nine provincial measures in its complaint, the court only recommended three of those in Monday's ruling. Wam news agency said the ruling showed that the measures sought by Qatar are "without a valid basis and were unsupported by evidence".

In a statement, the UAE reiterated its position that its actions are directed at the Qatari government and not the Qatari people.

"We urge Qatar to constructively engage on the requests made by the UAE and other countries for Qatar to comply with its international obligations. The UAE reiterates that it will continue to welcome Qatari citizens into its territory, as affirmed in the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on July 5th, 2018," the statement added.

Qatar had asked the court to hand down provisional measures against the alleged discrimination. The court voted 8-7 in favour of three provisional measures but the case is still being considering and the measures do not represent a final ruling.

The first was to ensure that any Qataris separated from their families be reunited with their relatives, the second was that Qatari students be able to resume their education in the UAE or obtain their educational records if they wish to continue their studies elsewhere. The third was that Qataris should be allowed to access tribunals and other judicial organs of the UAE.

The court chose to issue a fourth provisional measure, voted in favour by 11 votes to four, that said “both parties shall refrain from any action that might aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve”.

The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash tweeted after the ruling that the “judges refused the Qatari requests”.

Of the three provisional measures, he said “the UAE has started to implement based on its national standards, after the four countries took measures against Doha”.

No state that has had such interim measures handed down have ever complied with them. It remains unclear what the sanctions for not adhering to the measures are, or if the measures are legally binding.

On June 5, 2017, the UAE and the three other countries imposed a trade and travel ban on Qatar for its support of Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as militia groups in Somalia, Libya and Syria.

The UAE denies that it has discriminated against Qatari citizens and had submitted evidence to counter Doha’s allegations of discrimination against ordinary Qataris.

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Official figures provided to the court had shown that as of mid-June this year there were 2,194 Qataris in the UAE, "a number that is not substantially different than the number as at June 5, 2017”.

Qataris are free to transfer money both from and to the UAE.

In June, UAE ambassador to the Netherlands Saeed Al Nowais told the court that the Qatari people “have no responsibility for the dangerous policies of their government” and thus tried to minimise the boycott’s impact on ordinary people.

"The reality is that the present crisis was caused by Qatar’s own unlawful conduct and the solution is largely within Qatar’s hands. Qatar must, in accordance with its international obligations, stop harbouring and supporting terrorist groups and individuals," the ambassador said.

"Our government has asked Qatar time and again to cease this conduct. Although Qatar repeatedly committed to do so, it has failed to live up to its commitments."

The UAE presented evidence that Qatari citizens have continued to enjoy access to their assets and investments in the UAE since June 2017, including copies of commercial licences issued to Qatari companies since crisis began.

The evidence also showed that Qataris in the UAE continued to have unfettered access to health care, including under the government’s Daman UAE health insurance scheme, news agency Wam reported.

The next step of the process will see judges decide the final ruling in the case.

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