Corporal Punishment Of Children: Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Index - Qatar

Qatar should clearly prohibit all corporal punishment of children by law and enforce the prohibition.

No law explicitly prohibits corporal punishment of children in Qatar. The government wrote to Human Rights Watch that "all forms of assault are illegal in Qatar, including corporal punishment," citing article 309 of the Penal Code, which punishes assault less severe than cases causing "sickness or incapacity to work for more than twenty days."[1] In 2017, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reported "deep concern that corporal punishment is lawful and widely used in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools, and as a penal sentence."[2] Qatar accepted a recommendation at the 2019 UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review to "explicitly prohibit corporal punishment of children in all contexts and ensure that the prohibition is properly enforced and that offenders are brought before the competent authorities."[3]

Qatar informed Human Rights Watch that an educational policy from 2008 requires teachers to "adopt non-violent ways to deal with behavioral challenges positively, and avoid negative means," including corporal punishment,[4] and that the 2014 Code of Professional Conduct for schools prohibits "taking disciplinary action that includes physical or psychological abuse against students.[5] The government declared in 2019 that sanctions in schools did not "include practices that are inconsistent with human rights such as violence or corporal punishment".[6]

The government informed Human Rights Watch that in 2019 and 2020, two incidents of corporal punishment or psychological abuses were reported to authorities: a teacher who harmed a student with a pen, and was fired and deported from the country, and a school employee who "physically harassed a student" and was fired and criminally prosecuted. We are not aware of other recent data on the prevalence of violent discipline in schools. The low number of reported cases suggests the need to improve the effectiveness of the mechanism to report complaints. A 2013 study on violence against children found teachers responsible for 109 cases of physical violence against students including beating, pinching, biting, and hair pulling, as well as 283 cases of psychological violence including shouting, cursing, and threatening students.[7]

A 2019 UNICEF report, using 2012 survey data, found that 50 percent of children ages 2 to 14 in Qatar experienced violent discipline from caregivers in the last month – the lowest level of prevalence in the MENA region.[8] In a survey of 300 parents in Qatar in 2019, one-third said hitting a child’s hands or buttocks was acceptable, one-third said that yelling is not a form of abuse and does not affect a child’s development, and one-quarter said that hitting a child was acceptable if it does not cause physical harm.[9]

[1] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations on the combined third and fourth periodic reports of Qatar, 22 June 2017, CRC/C/QAT/CO/3-4, para. 21, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2fC%2fQAT%2fCO%2f3-4&Lang=en.

[2] Law No. 11 of 2004 Issuing the Penal Code, Article 309, available in English at Al Meezan: the Qatar Legal Portal, https://www.almeezan.qa/LawArticles.aspx?LawTreeSectionID=265&lawId=26&language=en.

[3] Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Qatar, A/HRC/42/15, 11 July 2019, recommendation 134.225, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G19/213/87/PDF/G1921387.pdf?OpenElement

[4] Qatar Government Communications Office letter to Human Rights Watch, January 2021. Ministerial Decision No 33 of 2013, Article 8, "emphasises the need to eradicate physical and psychological abuse of all kinds." Qatar also cited a 2013 ministerial decree against all violence in schools at the Universal Periodic Review in 2014. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment, Qatar, updated 2020, https://endcorporalpunishment.org/reports-on-every-state-and-territory/qatar/.

[5] Qatar: National report to the Universal Periodic Review, A/HRC/WG.6/33/QAT/1, March 1, 2019, para. 82, https://undocs.org/A/HRC/WG.6/33/QAT/1.

[6] P. 11, https://dohanews.co/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/study_88.pdf

[7] UNICEF, Violent Discipline in the Middle East and North Africa Region, January 2019, p. 41.

[8] Hendaus MA, Al-Khuzaei AM, Samarah O, Hamad SG, Selim BA, El Ansari W, "Child abuse and neglect in a rapidly developing country: Parents' perspectives," J Family Med Prim Care 2020, 9:3053-9, http://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2020/9/6/3053/287913.

[9] Hendaus MA, Al-Khuzaei AM, Samarah O, Hamad SG, Selim BA, El Ansari W, "Child abuse and neglect in a rapidly developing country: Parents' perspectives," J Family Med Prim Care 2020, 9:3053-9, http://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2020/9/6/3053/287913.

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