Top UN court orders UAE to protect Qatari citizens' rights

People walk on the corniche of the Qatari capital Doha on July 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The UN’s highest court says the United Arab Emirates must protect the rights of Qatari citizens and allow their families separated by a Saudi-led blockade to be reunited.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Monday that Abu Dhabi must "ensure that families, which include a Qatari member, separated by the measures adopted by the UAE ... are reunited," and that Qatari students are allowed "to complete their education" in the Emirates.

The Hague-based court also said that Qataris should be "allowed access to tribunals and other judicial organs of the United Arab Emirates.”

The ruling came less than a month after the ICJ announced it heard the UAE had spread a "climate of fear" among Qataris living in the Persian Gulf state during the year-long blockade, and caused "substantial pain.”

Qatar had lodged a case earlier with the court, saying Abu Dhabi had “implemented a series of discriminatory measures directed at Qataris based on their national origin,” and that "many Qataris still resident in the UAE live in perpetual fear and in the shadow of the UAE's expulsion order."

Abu Dhabi ordered all Qataris to leave the country on June 5, 2017, and imposed other restrictions as part of the blockade of Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar last year, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”

The administration of Saudi-backed and former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties with Doha. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry later announced that the decision to cut diplomatic ties was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

On June 9, 2017, Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.

Later that month, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of Al Jazeera television network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha.

The document containing the demands also asked Qatar to sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.

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