Qatar to be sued for booting HIV+ journo

2011-12-01 22:25

Johannesburg - A human rights organisation is planning to file an international law suit against the Gulf state of Qatar and its broadcaster Al Jazeera after a South African journalist was deported from the Gulf country for being HIV positive.

The journalist, who asked that his identity be withheld, had relocated to the country after being hired by the Doha-based television network's English language channel in October 2010.

According to Section 27, the organisation that has taken up his case, he was told by Al Jazeera shortly after arriving to undergo a medical examination. When the test results came back, he was called to its offices for a meeting.

"On his arrival, he was ordered to get into a car and driven to the Doha Prison, where he was detained in a crowded cell.

"He was forced to undergo a full medical examination, including a full body search, in front of the other prisoners," Section 27 said in a statement.

He was later released from the prison, ordered to leave Qatar within 48 hours and informed of his dismissal by Al Jazeera.

The Qatari embassy in South Africa was not immediately able to comment on the case when contacted by dpa.

"We addressed a demand to Al Jazeera asking for the journalist's reinstatement, and, as long as the existing laws are in place, to allow him to perform his duties from anywhere else in the world," said Section 27 attorney Nikki Stein.

"We have not even had an acknowledgment of receipt. So, no response at all," she noted.

Stein said the case cannot be brought before a judge in Qatar, one of 49 countries that restrict the entry of people living with HIV.

It is also one of only a handful of countries that will refuse short-term visas to people living with HIV, according to the UN.

"What we can't do is sue in a Qatari court, for two reasons. Firstly, our client is HIV positive and won't be granted a visa.

"The second reason is that the laws in Qatar actually sanction what happened to our client," said Stein.


The organisation would however attempt to take the matter to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, she said.

"Qatar does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of one's HIV status," Stein said. "The minister of interior has powers under domestic legislation to detain people with HIV and deport them."

Section 27 has the backing of Cosatu but Stein is still awaiting approval for the case by South Africa's delegation to the ILO, a necessary legal step.

Stein said she is hopeful, especially since the government has repeatedly committed itself to defending people with HIV/Aids.

Section 27 would ask the ILO to recommend to Qatar that it ensures there is no discrimination on the basis of a person's HIV status.

South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV in the world.

President Jacob Zuma in a speech to mark World Aids Day on Thursday said a "key priority is to deal with the stigma, discrimination and human rights violations of the infected and affected".

"The conduct of Qatar and Al Jazeera is akin to the policies adopted by the South African government under apartheid, where HIV status was the basis for the forced repatriation of migrant workers," said Section 27 in a statement.

  • john.h.viljoen - 2011-12-01 22:54

    What an idea.

  • Van - 2011-12-02 06:07

    What a joke. It is their country. They don't want you there, so get the hell out.

  • Silvana - 2011-12-02 06:15

    It's their country, it's their law, so live with it. It's one way to curb the spreading of HIV in their country. Olympic should be interesting.

  • benardmonte - 2011-12-02 07:03

    This is a policy (immediate extradition of HIV+ persons to their home countries) in most Arab countries (Qatar, UAE etc.)It is their laws, and before accepting/embarking on employment/residency in these contries make sure you have an HIV test back home first. It is better thatway instad of subjecting oneself to humiliations. You are required to undergo the same medical tests once every three years (during residence visa renewals). What most people do is go home in advance before the time for the test...if all clear then proceed......if not.....plan B, start looking for a tangible job home. Other countries are worse in their treatment of HIV positive people. @Cosmos O'Ndebele , it is very wrong, irresponsible, stupid, and immoral to start speculations of who it might be, and for this reason I am reporting your comment to News24.

  • Sheldon - 2011-12-02 07:05

    Why did he not state on his job application of his status? He is lucky they did not hang him.

  • Brent - 2011-12-02 07:31

    Maybe we should do the same to all journalists from qatar and al jazeera.

      ludlowdj - 2011-12-02 09:51

      Yes Brent lets change our own laws to get even.......grow up, they are a separate country which is legally and morally entitled to have their own laws.

  • Hannelie - 2011-12-02 08:39

    He probably knew the T&C's regarding the immigration rules and tried to avoid being honest.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-02 09:50

    I love this, the people of this country are so self opinionated that they believe they can interfere with the laws of another country.....hahahahahaah! just as classic as Zuma believing government is above the law of the country.

  • Kay - 2011-12-02 10:02

    I think what they did was very fair. Next time read the terms and Condition bro.

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