15 Nov 2010

Can children ever have true freedom of religion in countries with Islamic laws?

NOTE FROM PERRY BULWER - January 4, 2010

The following article highlights just how difficult it is to achieve full recognition of children's rights, even though all countries except for Somalia and the U.S. have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this case, the head of a human rights organization working to protect women and children claims that children's rights in Qatar are protected by various Qatari laws as well as by the UN Convention. She then lists as a protected right freedom of conscience and religion. However, in the very next sentence she states that Muslim children are not allowed to change their religion because Qatar is a Muslim state and that would contradict Islamic law, which is another way of saying children do not have freedom of religion; if you are not free to change then you are not truly free. She goes further and says that because Qatar signed that Convention the rights of children in Qatar "measure up to" rights in other countries. Real freedom of conscience and religion means the right to believe or not believe anything you want. Unless children are free to reject their parents' religion, choose their own religion, or reject all religions, they cannot be said to have freedom of religion.


The Peninsula - Qatar December 31, 2009

Institutionalising the protection of women and children in Qatari society

by Al johara Almulla & Reem AL Ansari | The Peninsula

The Qatari Institution for Child and Woman Protection is tasked with the role of providing effective protection to women and children. An interview with Farida Al-Obaidly, General Director of the organisation.

What are the major objectives of the Qatari Institution for Child and Woman Protection?

The institution aims at the follwoing:

1 Assistance in the provision of accommodation for target groups and to provide integrated care for them.

2 Shielding target groups from corrupt practices in the family and society.

3 Raising awareness about social and legal aspects among families and society about the rights of target groups as an integral part of human rights.

4 Social and legal awareness of the target groups exposed to violence within the family or in society in an attempt to curb violence.

5 Legal assistance for those exposed to violence in the family and society.

6 Help and rehabilitation of victims of violence from within the target groups and their reintegration into society.

What is the scope of the new child law? Can you give us statistics related to child law enforcement?

Basically there is no new law for the child, but the State of Qatar is one of the States which have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Therefore, it applies all the laws provided for by this Convention. Moreover, the Family Law of 2006 contains the various laws that ensures the rights of women and child.

What kinds of rights are guaranteed by the State of Qatar to a child? Are those rights at par with the rights granted to children worldwide?

The State of Qatar has the provision for many rights for women and children. These are: the right of health, social and economic. Also the Family Law No. 22 of 2006 covers a large part of these rights, such as the right to custody.

Moreover, Qatar applies the rights of the child Convention and these include: the right to life, survival, respect for the opinion of the child, the right to freedom, conscience and religion. The State of Qatar does not compel anyone to convert to a religion and does not allow a Muslim child to change his religion because Qatar is a Muslim country and it would contardict Islamic law. In addition, many different laws in Qatar provide and protect women and child rights, for instance, the principle of non-discrimination is enshrined in the Constitution of Qatar in Articles 34 and 35, and the right to education is also enshrined in the Qatari Constitution. Criminal law also provides for many of the rights of the child such as the right to bodily integrity, strong punishment for crimes of violence and sexual exploitation and incitement to immorality and debauchery, kidnappings, deportations and putting children at risk. Those rights are mentioned in the articles 318, 268 and 269.

Since Qatar has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, these rights measure up to the international rights offered in the statutes of many countries.

According to recent figures published by the Institution, the greatest number of cases of abuse that the institution dealt with was in 2005.There were 954 cases related to children and 931 pertaining to women. What are the legal bases you relied upon with regard to cases of abuse of women and child abuse?

The Qatari Institution for Child and Women Protection is dealing with the issues as follows:

� Setting up of hot line.

� Personal interviews with individuals concerned.

� Transfer of the case from Public Prosecution.

�Transfer of the case from governmental entities or association to the institutions.

� Transfer of the case from Hamad Medical Corporation.

The legal and security services provided by the institution are:

� Providing legal consultation

� Providing judicial services for defending a particular case.

� Communication with the Public Prosecution to oversee the case form all perspectives.

� Giving the party concerned financial help.

How can one deal with the issue of domestic violence suffered by the child? Does the deal achieve its objectives?

� The first step is to specify the type of abuse - physical or verbal.

� The specification is done through an interview with the abused child.

� The instuition conducts one more interview of the abused child.

� The institution sends social, psychological and legal consultants to oversee the case.

The institution has been able to achieve its goal in such cases and wishes to offer more.

How can one deal with children exposed to violence - physical or psychological - by an educational institution or one of its employees? Are there any rights to ensure protection in such cases?

There is a serious connection between the institution and the schools. A special team formed of legal, social and psychological consultants is formed to deal with a situation because any employee of the scholl or another child may have been involved in the abuse.

The school should bring the case of the child before the institution.

How can we make individuals aware of the rights provided by the State to women and children?

This can be dome through the media, brochures, and interviews with persons concerned in such cases. (For example: AMAN magazine in both Arabic and English languages)

This can also be done through lectures in schools.

These technique target all segments of the society.

Do you have something to conclude the discussion with?

There is a strong commitment to set up a centre for comprehensive protection to provide legal, social and pshycological consultation.

The centre will have a number of founders from the Public Prosecution, HMC and family consultation centre.

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