Sunday, June 5, 2011

Qatar Accused of Violating Intenational Law of Nonrefoulement

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has accused Qatar of violating international law by returning a female refugee from Libya to her home country after she complained about gang rapes by Libyan government troops in Tripoli. 

UNHCR had determined that Ms. Al Obeidi qualified as a refugee.  Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UNHCR stated that: “UNHCR was present at the hotel where Ms. Al Obeidi was staying in Qatar, ready to accompany her to the airport to travel to an emergency transit centre in Romania . . . She was prevented from leaving for this flight in the early hours of Thursday morning. Ms. Al Obeidi was transported against her will to Benghazi on a flight by Qatar early Thursday,” he added.

Qatar is not a member of the 1951 Refugee Convention, but it may be argued that the duty of nonrefoulement exists under customary international law.  The principle of nonrefoulement prohibits a state from returning a refugee against his or her will to a country where he or she fears threats to life or freedom.


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