Qatar’s decision to arbitrarily strip families Al Ghufran clan of their citizenship has left some members still stateless 20 years later and deprived of key human rights, Human Rights Watch said.
Stateless members of are deprived of their rights to decent work, access to health care, education, marriage and starting a family, owning property, and freedom of movement.
Without valid identity documents, they face bank accounts and acquiring drivers’ licenses and are at risk of arbitrary detention. Those living in Qatar are also denied a range of government benefits afforded to Qatari citizens, including state jobs, food and energy subsidies, and free health care.
“Many stateless members of are still denied redress today,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Qatari government should immediately end the suffering of those left stateless and give them and those who have since acquired other nationalities a clear path toward regaining their Qatari citizenship.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed nine members of three stateless families of living in Qatar and one person a fourth family who lives in Saudi Arabia. Altogether, there are 28 stateless individuals in the four families. Four others interviewed, two of whom live in Qatar, said they became Saudi citizens 8 to 10 years after Qatar stripped them of their citizenship.
Human Rights Watch wrote to the Qatari Ministry of Interior on April 29, 2019 to raise concerns. The letter did not receive a response at the time of this writing.
The Qatari government has asserted that those stripped of citizenship held a second nationality, Saudi Arabia, presumably because a large faction of the al-Murrah had long ago also settled in Saudi Arabia and gained Saudi citizenship.
Dual citizenship is prohibited under Qatar’s nationality law, as in other GCC countries.