Last updated: April 2016
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Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools and as a sentence for crime.

There appears to be no confirmation in the Penal or Family Codes of a “right” of parents and others to use corporal punishment in childrearing, but legal provisions against violence and assault are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment. Until 1971, Qatar was a British protectorate and it is likely that this relationship with the UK entailed an acceptance of the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement”. The near universal acceptance of corporal punishment in “disciplining” children necessitates clarity in law that no degree or kind of such punishment is acceptable or lawful. Legal defences of “reasonable chastisement” or similar – in legislation or common law – should be explicitly repealed, and prohibition enacted of all corporal punishment, however light and whoever the perpetrator.

Alternative care settings – Corporal punishment should be prohibited in all alternative care settings (foster care, institutions, places of safety, emergency care, etc).

Day care – Corporal punishment should be prohibited in all early childhood care (nurseries, crèches, kindergartens, preschools, family centres, etc) and all day care for older children (day centres, after-school childcare, childminding, etc).

Schools – The policy against the use of corporal punishment in schools should be confirmed through the enactment of legislation which clearly prohibits all corporal punishment in all education settings – public and private, religious and secular, and at all levels of education.

Sentence for crime – All judicial corporal punishment of persons under 18 at the time of the offence should be prohibited, including under Islamic Shari’a.

Legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Until 1971, Qatar was a British protectorate and it is likely that this relationship with the UK entailed an acceptance of the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement”. Provisions against violence and abuse in the Criminal Code 2004, the Code of Criminal Procedure 2004, the Civil Code 2004, the Juveniles Act 1994, the Family Code 2006 and the Constitution 2003 are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing.

In responding to recommendations on corporal punishment of children made during the Universal Periodic Review of Qatar in 2010, the Government stated that the recommendation to prohibit all forms of corporal punishment “has been put into effect”.[1] We have been unable to verify this statement. In reporting to the UPR in 2014, the Government addressed only corporal punishment in schools (see under “Schools”).

 

Alternative care settings

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in alternative care settings.

 

Day care

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in early childhood care and in day care for older children.

 

Schools

The Code of Conduct for schools states that corporal punishment should not be used and there is a Ministerial Decree 2001 against its use, but there is no explicit prohibition in law. In reporting to the Universal Periodic Review of Qatar in 2014, the Government stated that in 2013 a Ministerial Decree against all violence in schools was adopted.[2] Act No. 25 on compulsory education is silent on the issue.

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions. The Act regulating penal and correctional institutions, Act No. 3 2009, does not include corporal punishment among permitted disciplinary measures. It repeals the Prisons Act, Act No. 3 1995, which authorised flogging.

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is lawful as a sentence for crime under Islamic law. Article 19 of the Juveniles Act 1994 explicitly prohibits flogging of juveniles under 16: “A juvenile over 14 and under 16 years of age who commits a serious or major offence shall not be sentenced to death, imprisonment with hard labour or flogging but rather to one of the following penalties….” Persons aged 16 and 17 are subject to the penalties in the Criminal Code, which do not include corporal punishment. Article 36 of the Constitution states that “no person may be subjected to torture, or any degrading treatment”.

However, according to article 1 of the Criminal Code, the Code and other criminal laws do not apply to Hudud or Qisas offences when the victim or the alleged offender is a Muslim: “Islamic Sharia provisions concerning the following crimes are applicable if the suspect or the victim is a Muslim: 1- The crimes such as theft, adultery, defamation, drinking alcohol and apostasy. 2- The crimes of retaliation and the blood money. Otherwise, the crimes and the punishments are determined due to this law and any other law.” Punishments for these offences under Shari’a law include flogging and amputation.

 

Universal Periodic Review of Qatar’s human rights record

Qatar was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2010 (session 7). The following recommendations were made:[3]

“To include in its national legislation the concept of torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention against Torture, and to enact legislation to abolish all types of corporal punishment and other forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment (Mexico);

“To prohibit all forms of corporal punishment against children, both boys and girls (Chile);

“To consider abolishing the death penalty and corporal punishment, in particular against children (Brazil)”

The Government accepted the first two of these recommendations, stating that they have already been or are in the process of being implemented.[4] However, the Government rejected the third recommendation.[5]

Examination in the second cycle took place in 2014 (session 19). The Government drew attention to a Ministerial Decree against violence in schools, adopted in 2013.[6] No recommendations were made specifically on corporal punishment during the review.

 

Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations

Session 052 (2009)

(14 October 2009, CRC/C/QAT/CO/2, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 39 and 40)

"While noting that measures are being taken to address corporal punishment in the context of disciplinary measures in schools and in the penal system, the Committee expresses concern that corporal punishment of children is still lawful in the family and alternative care settings.

"The Committee urges the State party:

a) to critically review its current legislation with a view to prevent and end the use of corporal punishment of children as a method of discipline and to introduce explicit legislation prohibiting all forms of corporal punishment of children in all settings, including in the family, schools, penal system and alternative care settings;

b) to introduce public education, awareness-raising and social mobilization campaigns on alternative non-violent forms of discipline with the involvement of children in order to change public attitudes to corporal punishment; 

c) to take into account while drafting legislation and designing policies the Committee’s general comment No. 8 (2006) on the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment."

Read more from Session 052 (2009)

Session 028 (2001)

(6 November 2001, CRC/C/15/Add.163, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 43, 44, 45, 46, 53 and 54)

"The Committee is seriously concerned that, contrary to article 37 (a) of the Convention, under the 1994 Juvenile Act there is a possibility that persons under 18 may be subject to judicial sanctions such as flogging.

"The Committee recommends that the State party take immediate steps to ensure that the law prohibits the imposition of flogging and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on persons who may have committed crimes when they were under 18.

"The Committee is concerned that there is insufficient information about and awareness of the ill-treatment of children within the family and institutions.

"The Committee recommends that the State party:

a) conduct a study to assess the nature and extent of ill-treatment and abuse of children, and design policies and programmes to address it; 

b) take legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence against children, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse in the family and in institutions; 

c) carry out public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment of children and promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment…. 

"Noting the 1993 Ministerial Decree which bans corporal punishment in schools, the Committee remains concerned that this issue is not addressed effectively.

"The Committee recommends that the State party raise awareness of the negative impact of corporal punishment among teachers and other professionals working in schools, and take other appropriate measures to prevent and eliminate it."

Read more from Session 028 (2001)

Committee Against Torture, Concluding Observations

CAT session 049 (2012)

(25 January 2013, CAT/C/QAT/CO/2, Concluding observations on second report, para. 12)

"While noting that the new Act regulating penitentiaries and correctional institutions (Act No. 3 of 2009) makes no provision for the use of flogging as a disciplinary sanction unlike the previous law (Act No. 3 of 1995), the Committee remains concerned that flogging and stoning continue to be punishments under article 1 of the Criminal Code. According to information before the Committee, and which the State party did not dispute, at least 45 people were given flogging sentences between 2009 and 2011 (art. 2).

The State party should put an end to its imposition of corporal punishment, which constitutes a breach of the Convention, and modify its legislation accordingly. The State party should ensure that criminal sanctions are in full conformity with the Convention."

Read more from CAT session 049 (2012)

CAT session 036 (2006)

(25 July 2006, CAT/C/QAT/CO/1, Concluding observations on initial report, para. 12)

"Certain provisions of the Criminal Code allow punishments such as flogging and stoning to be imposed as criminal sanctions by judicial and administrative authorities. These practices constitute a breach of the obligations imposed by the Convention. The Committee notes with interest that authorities are presently considering amendments to the Prison Act that would abolish flogging.

The State Party should review the legal provisions of the Criminal Code which authorize the use of such prohibited practices as criminal sanctions by judicial and administrative officers, with a view to abolishing them immediately."

Read more from CAT session 036 (2006)

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Concluding Observations

CRPD session 14 (2015)

(3 September 2015, CRPD/C/QAT/CO/1 Advance Unedited Version, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 29 and 30)

“The Committee is concerned that corporal punishment remains lawful and by the lack of information on how this affects persons with disabilities in all settings, including in alternative care settings, at home, at schools and as a sentence for crime.

“The Committee recommends that the State party enact a prohibition of all corporal punishment and that it implement the recommendations of the Committee against Torture (CAT/C/QAT/CO/2 para. 12 and 19) insofar as they relate to persons with disabilities. It also requests that the State party provide information in this regard in its next periodic report.”

Read more from CRPD session 14 (2015)

Prevalence/attitudinal research for Qatar in the last 10 years

A survey conducted in 2012 found 50% of children aged 2-14 were subjected to at least one form of psychological aggression or physical punishment, with a slightly higher prevalence among Qatari children (54%) than their non-Qatari counterparts (48%), and among older children (53% of children age 10-14) than younger (47% of those age 2-4). Boys (38%) were more likely to be subjected to physical punishment compared to girls (30%). Violent disciplining methods were found to be highest where the head of the household was educated to primary level (65%) and lowest where the head of the household had a university degree (45%). In contrast to the actual prevalence of physical punishment (35%), only 14% of respondents believed that children need to be physically punished. Forty per cent of children were found to experience only non-violent disciplining methods.

(Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (2014), Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2012, Doha, Qatar: Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics)

Footnotes

[1] 1 June 2010, A/HRC/14/2/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, pages 3 and 4

[2] 27 June 2014, A/HRC/27/15, Report of the working group, para. 114

[3] 15 March 2010, A/HRC/14/2, Report of the working group, paras. 85(7), 85(14) and 86(10)

[4] 1 June 2010, A/HRC/14/2/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, page 4; 18 June 2010, A/HRC/14/L.10, Report of the Human Rights Council on its fourteenth session, para. 214

[5] 15 March 2010, A/HRC/14/2, Report of the working group, para.  86(10)

[6] 9 May 2014, A/HRC/WG.6/19/L.14 Advance Unedited Version, Draft report of the working group, para. 114

Child population

347,380 (UNICEF, 2013)

National and regional advocacy for law reform

No known campaign for law reform

Forthcoming treaty body examinations and UPRs

Universal Periodic Review (UPR): 2019, session 33, deadline for briefing tbc

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC): 2017, session 75, deadline for briefing (LOI) has passed, deadline for briefing for exam 15 April 2017

Committee Against Torture (CAT): Date of examination to be confirmed

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