censorship

Qatar Confronts UAE at The Hague Over Blocked Website

It is claimed that Qatar is blocking a website that allows Qataris to apply for UAE visas

Rebecca Duff
By Rebecca Duff

Last week, representatives from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar visited the International Court of Justice in The Hague in an attempt to make some progress regarding the two-year-old Gulf diplomatic crisis.

There was no positive outcome, with the UAE accusing Doha of blocking a website used by Qataris to apply for UAE visas. Due to this, on Tuesday 7 May the UAE sought an injunction against Qatar for failing to honor promises made by the country in 2018.

Qatar informed the court that it had indeed blocked access to the site, claiming that it posed a threat to Gulf state security. This was due to alleged “malware” coded within the site that has been designed to infiltrate the state’s online security systems.

Qatar also alleged that the UAE had discriminated against its citizens on “racial grounds” by imposing restrictions on travel and residency.

The UAE responded to this and called upon Qatar to stop abusing its national authorities and media outlets to spread lies and disinformation. Qatar then accused the UAE of conducting “a campaign of violence and hatred” against citizens of the country and argued that the International Court of Justice should throw out the case.

This incident is one of many to have arisen alongside the ongoing tensions between the two nations. William Worster, adjunct professor of law at The Hague University, acknowledges that this is part of a larger “political disagreement” but that there are also “legal elements within that,” which is why they are being dealt with in this “legal forum.”

Stefanie Dekker, an Al Jazeera representative reporting from The Hague, believes that even though this is a legal issue, it’s actually “all about the politics.” She went on to disclose that “both sides have employed some of the world’s best international lawyers” in an attempt to tip the dispute in their favor.

Qatar’s representative, Mohammed Abdulaziz al-Jhulaifi, argues that “it is the Qatari people who are the true victims in the racial discrimination case, not the government of the UAE,” but both sides are yet to make any kind of official comment to reports. The three days of hearings concluded on Thursday 9 May, with a verdict expected in the very near future.