Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Qatar using false allegations as a weapon in UN court case

ICJ asked to take a stand after Qatar is caught 'red-handed' obstructing the UAE

The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. Alamy
The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. Alamy

Qatar has exploited accusations of modern-day racism against the UAE as a weapon that has a powerful impact in a world dominated by social media, the United Nations' highest court was told on Thursday.

On the third day of hearings into fabrications and obstructions used by Qatar to frustrate UAE compliance with the International Court of Justice, lawyers asked judges to provide protection from the damage wrought by Doha.

Robert Volterra, presenting the UAE case, said that "real and continuing" injury from the "fabrication of evidence" under the Convention for Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Cerd) required the intervention of the ICJ.

"Make no mistake, this is a weapon," he said.

Such was the ferocity and intensity of the Qatari campaign that another senior lawyer, Professor Michael Reisman of Yale Law School, warned the ICJ that its own authority was being undermined by the tactics. Drawing an analogy with the military concerns over the use of multiple drones to attack and overwhelm a conventional target, he warned against allowing the pattern to continue unchecked.

At the core of the campaign was Qatar's pursuit of legal action at the Cerd tribunal while also taking a case at the ICJ. "Let not swarming be legitimated by a legal strategy," Prof Reisman said.

The UAE is asking the ICJ to terminate proceedings at the Cerd, stop Qatari efforts to hamper its citizens from travel to the UAE, prevent media and government committees from using false accusations against the UAE and prevent further aggravation by Qatari representatives.

The UAE denies all allegations that Qataris are suffering under the terms of the convention. The Arab coalition severed logistics links with Qatar in June 2017 in protest at the country's repeated violation of the Riyadh Agreement and its commitments on ending support for extremism and promotion of terror.

The ICJ ruled that the UAE must allow families which include Qatari members, to be reunited, and that Qatari students must be given the chance to complete their education in the Emirates

While the UAE accepted the ICJ intervention in June last year over the rights of Qataris who have links to the UAE, it has returned to court to seek its protection.

Qatar has blocked access to a visa website that the UAE set up to facilitate travel by those Qataris who have legitimate reasons to travel. By blocking its own citizens from accessing the UAE websites designed to ease travel issues, Doha is therefore failing to honour last year's judgment. According to Dan Sarooshi QC, Qatar had been caught "red-handed" using "bogus" security concerns. "It is preventing Qataris from being able to re-enter the UAE," he said.

Documents submitted to the court in addition detailed 82 forged submissions by Qatar that have damaged the integrity of the process. In addition, Qatari-backed news outlets and committees like the country's National Human Rights Committee have targeted the UAE with a misinformation campaign.

"The UAE seeks protection from events outside this hall but that affects these preceedings," added Maria Fogdestam-Agius. "[The UAE asks] not to be subjected to unilateral statements that point to its guilt that cause prejudice to the court."

The ICJ is expected to give a ruling later.

Updated: May 9, 2019 08:26 PM