2022 World Cup protesters could face up to five years in prison for ‘stirring up public opinion’ under Qatar’s Penal Code, Athleticism can reveal.
The law, which was tightened in January 2020, raises concerns about whether fans will enjoy free speech at the upcoming tournament.
Amnesty International said Athleticism the law’s “vague” terminology “could silence peaceful protest”.
Several sporting events across the country have been disrupted by environmental protests in recent months.
Just Stop Oil caused delays to several Premier League games in March, while a Last Renovation campaigner tied the net in the French Open semi-final between Casper Ruud and Marin Cilic.
Oil and gas exports account for 60% of Qatar’s gross domestic product (GDP). A state-owned oil company, QatarEnergy, was named an official partner of the World Cup in February.
Additionally, migrant construction workers alleged numerous human rights abuses ahead of the tournament. A Guardian report claimed that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in the past 10 years.
But protesters risk seeing their freedom of expression blocked by a law change in the Official Gazette of January 2020, announced by the Emir of Qatar.
Article 136 states that those affected by the new law include: “Anyone who disseminates, publishes or republishes false or biased rumours, statements or information, or inflammatory propaganda, at home or abroad, in the intention to harm national interests, to agitate public opinion, or to harm the social system or the public system of the State”.
Violators could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Qatari riyals (about $25,000).
The law has been condemned by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.
“The Penal Code has been amended to introduce more vague terms, which could be interpreted as an attack on freedom of expression,” said May Romanos, Gulf researcher at Amnesty. Athleticism.
“It’s anything that’s seen as harming the national interest, changing public opinion or violating the social system. Anything could fall under that. It’s a catch-all that discourages free speech.
“This could be used to silence peaceful critics or people expressing their right to free speech, even online. This is in addition to the usual laws they have, including the Cybercrime Act, which is already repressive.
Athleticism spoke to several protest groups who have ruled out activism during the World Cup due to the harshness of these laws.
In June 2018, Qatar signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as part of the country’s bid to improve its human rights record ahead of the World Cup.
The UN Human Rights Committee, which interprets the agreement, says member states must ensure that those subject to free speech laws fully understand what is prohibited, and also calls for “proportionate” penalties.
“We continue to call on Qatar to respect people’s freedom of expression,” Amnesty said. Athleticism. “It’s a key pillar of the international obligations that Qatar is committed to, they’ve signed international treaties, they’ve said they will respect international human rights law, which includes the right to freedom of ‘expression.
“We will continue to call on Qatar to respect these rights and obligations.”
A FIFA spokesperson said Athleticism that the organization supports peaceful protest in accordance with regulations, and that it has a human rights grievance mechanism in place to report any violations.
But when asked directly, they could not guarantee the safety of peaceful protesters in the country.
They said Athleticism“FIFA upholds the principles of freedom of expression and is committed to upholding the rights of anyone attending FIFA events.
“In relation to the legislative protections in place during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, specific legislation has been passed with the aim of ensuring a safe tournament environment for all, in line with FIFA’s requirements for all the hosts of its competitions.
“This includes ensuring that fans and everyone else involved in the tournament will be free from undue restrictions on their personal freedoms and an extensive program has been implemented over the past few years to train staff at security in the application of these standards.”
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy had no comment when contacted by Athleticism.
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