Home > Regions > Middle East and North Africa > The Gulf > Human rights in the smaller Gulf states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and UAE

Author

Joe Stork

Joe Stork is the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch (HRW). Before joining HRW he co-founded the Middle East Research and Information Project, and from 1971 to 1995 was the chief editor of its bimonthly magazine, Middle East Report . His books inclu...
More

Related publications

a A share Email print

Human rights in the smaller Gulf states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and UAE

Joe Stork, 19 December 2012

Human rights conditions in the five smaller Gulf states are quite poor overall. Political and economic power is the monopoly of hereditary ruling families. There is little respect for core civil and political rights such as freedom of expression, assembly and association. Peaceful dissent typically faces harsh repression. The administration of justice is highly personalised, with limited due process protections, especially in political and security-related cases. The right to participate in public affairs by way of election to offices with some authority is extremely limited; the only exception is Kuwait.

Women face discrimination in matters such as inheritance, divorce and the custody of children. These states, some among the world’s wealthiest in per capita terms, provide amply for basic services like health care and education, but this is limited to citizens – in countries where low-skilled and poor migrant workers make up the majority of the population. Many countries have a stateless population, known as bidun , in some cases quite substantial, who face systematic discrimination and marginalisation.

Where governments have established national human rights commissions, these have not taken positions critical of the government. Those that are active, like Qatar’s, work mainly in non-controversial areas like disability rights.

Featured

Stay informed

Subscribe to notifications from NOREF.

Follow NOREF

Recommended

 
Interview with Mariano Aguirre
ISN
Interview with Mariano Aguirre
ISN
 
BBC
BBC
Egypt vows to pursue IS in Sinai
Egypt vows to pursue IS in Sinai
Eight held over Tunisia gun attack
Eight held over Tunisia gun attack
Saudi prince to give away $32bn
Saudi prince to give away $32bn
 
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Tunisia claims destruction of group behind beach attack
Tunisia claims destruction of group behind beach attack
Indian state derecognises madrassa education
Indian state derecognises madrassa education
France court returns Jean-Marie Le Pen to far-right FN
France court returns Jean-Marie Le Pen to far-right FN
 
ISN
ISN
The Central Sahel: A Perfect Sandstorm
The Central Sahel: A Perfect Sandstorm
2015 NPT RevCon: WMDFZ Conference off the Table, for Now
2015 NPT RevCon: WMDFZ Conference off the Table, for Now
Are Muslim Countries More War-Prone?
Are Muslim Countries More War-Prone?