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Rights group wants monitors to look into Qatar blockade

News - Middle East

Brussels-based rights group says 'siege' is against principle of non-interference in other country's internal affairs.

A Brussels-based human rights group has asked to visit Qatar to monitor reported "violations and other human rights breaches" affecting citizens and residents of Qatar following a blockade imposed against the country.

"The siege is in contrast to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of state, especially the principle of non-use of force or threat against other countries, mutual respect and coexistence in peace with neighbouring countries," the Alliance for Freedom and Dignity (AFD) said in a statement on Friday.

The rights group plans to send human rights monitors from 20 countries, including the United Kingdom and France, to gather testimonials and statements from individuals and families affected by the blockade.

Their request comes as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the lifting of sanctions against Qatar on Friday.

The rights group said the field visit was essential "to establish an independent picture of the human rights situation" in Qatar.

The independent human rights monitors also asked to conduct "on the spot and spontaneous" hearings and meetings with the locals and the Qatari civil society.

The rights group also said that it is talking to officials in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain, as part of its effort to help resolve the crisis. 

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain accuse Doha of funding what they call "terrorism" - allegations that Qatar strongly denies. 

The four countries then cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the country.

On June 22, the Saudi-led group issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country, as a prerequisite to lifting the blockade.

Doha rejected the demands, and the countries now consider the list null and void.

The blockading countries later issued a six-point demand.

On Thursday, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued a decree amending some provisions of the country's law on "combating terrorism", the state news agency reported.

The order follows an agreement between Qatar and the United States that seeks to curb "terrorism financing" and which was signed during a visit to Doha by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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