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Children are the most vulnerable section of any society throughout the globe and are also the future of a country. Understanding the importance of the proper framework of Child Rights, the Government of Qatar has sought to upgrade its legislation surrounding Child Rights to match the international standards.

Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) recently organised a forum addressing safe childhood in co-operation with Qatar Social Work Foundation under the wise leadership of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

The event highlighted that Qatar is committed toward securing Child Rights on both legislative and institutional level. Constitution of Qatar already includes legal provisions that consider family, maternal and child rights.

It was highlighted that Qatar has further ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child making it a part of its internal law. It also adjoined the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of child, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of child in Armed Conflict (OPAC), for upgrading the legislation for Child Rights.

The Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Dr. Issa Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi stated the importance of enriching child culture, consolidating, promoting and protecting child rights and extracting their creative energy to create a new generation that is able to lead the future. He stressed that is an important factor in achieving and maintaining a positive communication between the next generation and the society.

Dr. Saad further stressed that this is a combined responsibility of responsible forces in the society such as family, educational institutions, preachers, media outlets, civil organisations and the overall environment.

Protecting Child Rights is one of the major goals of Qatar National Vision 2030, in sync to achieve sustainable development. To achieve the same, the government is taking efforts toward updating the programmes that guarantee rights.

Moreover, as securing Child Rights needs contribution from all sectors of the society, the ministry is planning and taking various steps to spread social awareness and raise intellectual, factual and behavioural levels in children of the society. The aim is to promote and stimulate proper behaviour by which individuals communicate constructively with previous and coming generations, to enhance educational, social, health, cultural, skills, intellectual, creative and literary scenes among children in Qatar in various fields.

Further, the consequences on children in political crises such as the diplomatic blockade was pointed out as a violation of international law and human rights, especially considering the rights of children whose families have been separated.

Qatar Foundation for Social Work (QFSW) chief executive officer Amal Abdullatif al-Mannai committed that QFSW will promote the basic rights of children such as the right to identity, physical integrity, education and access to all information and services, as well as living in the family, physical and psychological rehabilitation, social reintegration, and the right to enjoy all rights without any discrimination, including the right of the disabled and orphan child to lead a decent life.

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Qatar’s Emir has approved new legislation that metes out jail time and fines for those caught taking, recording or sharing photos and videos of accident victims.

Law No. 4 of 2017 amends some provisions of the Penal Code with regards to breaching someone’s privacy without their consent.

It increases the penalty for breaking the law from one year to up to two years in jail. It also doubles the potential fine to up to QR10,000.


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Article 333 previously pertained to offenses such as opening someone’s correspondence, eavesdropping on phone calls and recording or transmitting private conversations.

But according to the Gulf Times, it now also includes two more provisions:

“Taking or transmitting photographs or video clips of accident victims using any kind of device – unless legally permitted – and taking or transmitting photographs or video clips of an individual or group of individuals in a public place through any device with the aim of using these for abuse or defamation.”

High-profile cases

The Cabinet has been discussing amendments to the penal code for at least two years.

In September 2015, it approved legislation that explicitly criminalized taking photos of the deceased or injured without permission.

Such images are considered “human and moral” defamation and go against “social and religious” values, attorney Mohammad Al Hagri was quoted as saying earlier that year.

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The draft legislation was recently revived, even though residents who take such photos or video can already be punished under Qatar’s privacy and cybercrime laws.

These laws apparently came into play during two high-profile incidents in 2015.

In October of that year, a person was arrested for sharing dramatic footage of a deadly traffic accident that involved two teens and a sewage tanker.

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Accident scene

And a month later, two people were arrested for posting a video of a young man smashing into a Rolls Royce at the Sheraton Grand Doha hotel.

However, it remains unclear what those involved were charged with or what penalties they faced.


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Qatar’s Emir has signed off on a new law that for the first time gives residents with mental health conditions specific rights regarding their treatment.

The legislation includes details about where patients must be treated and how long they can be held against their will.

It also introduces stiff penalties for medical staff who abuse or neglect them, according to a copy of the law in Al Sharq.

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Additionally, the law highlights that patients and his/her relatives should fully understand the nature of the treatments they receive.

Depression has become increasingly common in Qatar, affecting both nationals and expats.

Government figures state that one in five Qataris live with a mental disorder. And mental health issues are particularly common among women and young adults.

One of the main challenges here has been getting patients with mental health issues to seek appropriate help due to stigma, experts say.

Safeguarding human rights

Law No. 16 of 2016 on mental health has just been published in the official gazette and will come into force in less than two months.

Provisions of the law were first mentioned in 2013 in Qatar’s National Mental Health Strategy (NMHS).

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This sets out how the country plans to develop its mental health services until 2018.

According to that document, the mental health law was to be enacted in December 2015. This means that it is now more than a year overdue.

The strategy pledged that the new law would provide “modern health legislation that safeguards and protects the human rights of people with mental illnesses in Qatar.”

Licensed clinics

Under the new law, mentally ill people in Qatar can only be treated in specialized mental health hospitals, either private or public.

They can also be treated in the psychiatric section or outpatient clinic of a properly licensed private or public hospital.

New community mental health center in Muaither

Enaya Continuing Care Center Muaither

New community mental health center in Muaither

The patient has the right to get treatment in a safe and secure environment. This place should respect his or her dignity and human rights, the law states.

These institutions must keep the patients and their families or guardians informed about their care and rights at all times, it added.

If the patient is not capable of making his/her own decisions, their loved ones should be told about the diagnosis, test results and treatment plans beforehand.

Compulsory admission

For the first time, the law details when a patient in Qatar can be forced to remain in a mental health institution.

This requires a psychiatric consultant’s approval, and requires the patient being in a condition that is deemed to deteriorate imminently.

Committing a patient can also be done if they are likely to pose “a serious immediate or imminent danger” to themselves or others.

If admitted, the patient’s family or guardian, the director of the treatment institution and the Ministry of Public Health must be notified within 24 hours.

This notification must be accompanied by a report evaluating the patient, the law says.

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It also lays down the circumstances in which patients can be made to remain in the hospital, even if they admitted themselves voluntarily.

It says that a doctor is allowed to prevent a patient who voluntarily enters an institution from leaving for up to 72 hours.

This is if they may harm themselves or others, or if the doctor feels that they cannot look after themselves due to their illness.

After this period, a proper assessment and due process must be undertaken before they are admitted on a compulsory basis, it said.

Additionally, patients who are forced to undergo treatment involuntarily can be held for three months at a time. This period can be extended “according to treatment needs.”

Electroshock therapy

The law also specifies that Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is permitted in Qatar, but only under general anesthesia.

Written consent must be obtained from the patient or their guardian for the procedure if the patient lacks the mental ability to comprehend.

This can also be done if they are too young to give consent, the law states.

However, if a committed patient or his/her guardian refuses this treatment even though it is deemed necessary for their condition, he/she can be forced to receive it after an independent medical evaluation, the law adds.

Fines and jail sentences

The law also codifies four separate new crimes when it comes to mistreating patients with mental illness.

The first of these targets doctors who write bogus medical reports about patients to either bring about their admission to a hospital, or to get them discharged.

This crime carries a jail term of up to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to QR200,000.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Similar punishment awaits anyone who keeps a mentally ill person inside an institution that is “not designated for mental care.”

Furthermore, a one-year jail term and/or a fine of up to QR60,000 will now be given to staff – doctors, nurses and guards – who are found to have mistreated or neglected someone with mental illness.

Finally, negligence that causes a patient disability or disease will also be punished by up to a year in jail, and/or a fine of up to QR50,000.

You can read the law in full (in Arabic) here.