In the Permanent Constitution of Qatar (2004), there are several articles that ensure the quality of all citizens of the country is Articles 34, 35, 21, and 22. These articles outlaw discrimination and ensure that all members of the society enjoy equal rights. Moreover, they support the family institution, maternity, old age, and childhood, provide due care for the young, and protect them from mental and physical neglect. Also, the child rights are strengthened by the Qatari laws No. 1 of 1994, 38 of 1995, 2 and 14 of 2004, 3 of 2016, and Amiri Decree No. 6 of 2016.
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- The former contains provisions intended to preserve children from crimes as well as preventive measures to rehabilitate them by rectifying their behavior in the event that crimes have already been committed.
- Law No. 38 guarantees security benefits to orphanages or children of unknown parentage in the form of monthly payments.
- Law No. 14 prohibits child labor under the legal age.
- Law No. 2 ensures the provision of educational services to individuals with disabilities.
- Amiri Decree No. 6 establishes the Department of Family Matters, which is responsible for increasing the community awareness of juvenile delinquency and measures of its prevention.
- Law No. 3 ensures that all children (including illegitimate ones) have birth certificates.
Additionally, The Qatar Foundation for Social Action is focused on the preservation of human rights of all citizens. There are numerous foundations and centers addressing social issues:
- Family Counseling Center is aimed to strengthen family bonds and marriage by providing numerous prevention services.
- Orphans Care Center ensures the stability of host families and renders aid to children who are deprived of the natural family environment.
- Social Protection and Rehabilitation Center supports women and children who fall victims to family break-ups or violence.
Law No. 1 of 1994 prohibits the administration of corporal punishments to juveniles younger than 14 (National Anti-money Laundering & Terrorism Financial Committee, n.d.). Also, Article 22 of the Constitution obligates the state to protect the young from all kinds of abuse and exploitation, and Law No. 11 of 2004 protects children from sexual violence. The latter does not accept any element of consent on behalf of children and increases punishment for having sexual intercourse with a female or male under 16 (life imprisonment).
The aspects of custody of children are regulated by Law No. 22 of 2006. The Law positions custody as the basic duty of fathers during the whole lifetime of a marriage. In the event of divorce, custody precedence is given to mothers under the condition that they are able to ensure due protection of the child. Inheritance is regulated by the Qatari Law of the Family in accordance with the principles of Islamic sharī‘a (“The Permanent Constitution of the state of Qatar,” 2004).
The administration of social security benefits is regulated by The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Matters. Also, the Wifaq Centre is focused on the protection of children faced with divorce in the family. Another organization that provides help is The Qatar Foundation for Social Action. It also renders additional services, including training for parents, provision of suitable psychological atmosphere for children who are supervised by specialists while being in custody, and rendering legal services to guarantee that the child’s interests are protected in a proper manner.
The rights of the children living in prison are protected by The Department of Penal and Correctional Institutions of the Ministry of the Interior. The Department makes sure that all of their children’s needs are fulfilled and their mothers can spend all their time with the children. The key needs include: food, healthcare (including vaccinations), due treatment, suitable diet and care for breastfeeding mothers, medical examination, and observation of child’s interests in all situations.
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education enforces the policies regarding inclusive education. This includes the support of special needs students, preparation of schools and their staff, and the provision of advice to caregivers of students with disabilities. The major provisions of support policies include:
- granting a right to receive comprehensive education;
- increasing the level of support with the adoption of a well-structured approach;
- providing solid background;
- ensuring quality of the educational skills;
- providing vocational development programs.
Also, the Ru’a Centre for Assessment, Consultancy and Support for Students Needing Additional Educational Support is another agency focused on the fulfillment of the needs of students with disabilities.
Article 58 of the Qatari Constitution protects the rights of political asylum seekers (“The Permanent Constitution of the State of Qatar,” 2004). Qatar adhered to the basic principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention and provides an ongoing help and support for all the refugees who reside on the territory of this country. The country also takes part in activities of the Joint Committee of Experts and Representatives of the Ministries of Justice and the Interior of the Arab States. Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), which works in 10 Asian countries including Qatar, is currently the major agency that provides support to refugees, helping them realize their full capacity in employment and education.
Law No. 21 of 2015 regulated the policies of entry of migrant children, as well as their treatment in the territory of Qatar (“The Permanent Constitution of the State of Qatar,” 2004). It ensures that the families entering the state are protected from separation. Education and medical care are provided to all children without distinction into natives and foreigners. As far as their educational opportunities are concerned, education is available to both nationals and foreign residents, beginning with nurseries and kindergartens and up to working adults.
Law No. 1 of 1994 prohibits the use of child labor as a source if livelihood. Article 322 of the Penal Code – Law No. 11 of 2004 states that persons who exploit children or adults as workers will face up to six months of detention (National Anti-money Laundering & Terrorism Financial Committee, n.d.). Law No. 14 of 2004 permits regular inspections of workplaces in order to check their workforce. Establishments that employ juveniles may face closure. The same article stipulates that legal authorization (provided by the child’s father or legal guardian) is required for juveniles to be employed. Furthermore, these juveniles have to undergo a medical examination.
In Qatar, the minimum age for criminal responsibility is seven. Currently, Qatar’s legislators have ratified the 1995 Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as two Optional Protocols regarding the involvement of children in warfare and the sale of children including child prostitution and pornography. A bill was drafted that will cover the definition of the age of criminal responsibility. At present, it is waiting to be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Legislative Matters. This bill is supposed to unite the integrated vision of the child’s rights consistent with the applicable law of the country and principles outlined during various international conventions devoted to the topic of child protection.
Law No. 15 of 2011 prohibits human trafficking. Articles 318, 321 and 322 of the Penal Code prohibit the submission of any persons to prostitution, as well as their kidnapping and illegal arrest. The penalty for these crimes is increased (up to the capital punishment in the event of the death of the victim) if the victim is a child, juvenile, or a woman. Any types of purchase or sale of people are also penalized.
Law No. 31 of 2006 prohibits the involvement of individuals under 18 in armed conflicts. Currently, the Qatari armed forces adhere to the standards of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. This implies that the armed forces enjoy the highest humanitarian standards, training programs, and internal protection.
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National Anti-money Laundering & Terrorism Financial Committee. (n.d.). Penal Code. Web.
The Permanent Constitution of the State of Qatar. (2004). Web.