Qatar council rejects move to extend arrest without trial period

June 1, 2011

Qatar’s Advisory Council has rejected a proposal to  extend to three years the period of preventive detention of a person suspected of posing grave threats.

Seventeen council members voted against the interior minister’s proposal, while 11 voted in its favour.

The Council, which approves the general policy of the government and exercises control over the executive authority, said that detaining a person for three years without trial would severely curb his freedom and basic rights in violation of the Qatari Constitution.

The interior ministry justified its move by saying that since Qatar is a multi-cultural society and people from a large number of nationalities live there, a stringent law that worked as a deterrent was needed, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported on Wednesday.

Under the existing law, promulgated to ensure social peace and stability and which prescribes severe punishment for those found violating it, the state can make the preventive arrest of a suspect for two weeks without trial.

The detention period is extendable up to a maximum of six months. However, the interior ministry suggested that the period of two weeks be extended to 30 days and the six months’ maximum preventive arrest period be stretched up to two years. The ministry’s suggested amendment says that the detention can be extended by another year, albeit with the approval from the Prime Minister.

The Advisory Council said during a debate on the issue that the proposal was unacceptable and several members cited articles of the Qatari Constitution to argue that that the amendments would defeat the spirit of the constitution that guarantees people’s basic rights.

“What happens if the authorities keep a person under preventive detention for three years and at the end of the term he is found innocent?” one member asked, according to the daily. “Making arrests of suspects and putting them on fair trial is the best way to combat crime and dispense justice.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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