Despite Qatar’s ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2018, the right to freedom of opinion and expression is still not guaranteed. In fact, the Penal Code criminalises criticism of the emir, while national media outlets cannot report freely. Free expression online is jeopardised by Law on Combating Cybercrimes, which contains exceedingly broad provisions, leaving room for misinterpretation and abuse.

In the context of counter-terrorism, Qatar violates legal safeguards and fair trial rights. Qatari legislation is lacking sufficient and clear limitations to incommunicado and secret detention, and a number of laws – including the Law on Combating Terrorism – include provisions allowing for the derogation from legal safeguards enshrined in the Code of Criminal Procedure in cases related to national security and public order.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed relations with Doha over its alleged support of terrorist groups. They then imposed land, sea and air blockades and expelled Qatari nationals from their countries, affecting thousands of families in the Gulf and violating their right to mobility, education and medical treatment.