Head of state: Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Head of government: Shaikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 1.9 million
Life expectancy: 78.4 years
Under-5 mortality: 10.8 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 94.7 per cent

Two people were detained, apparently as suspected government critics; one was allegedly tortured. Migrant workers were exploited, abused and inadequately protected under the law. At least six people were sentenced to flogging. At least three men were sentenced to death; there were no executions.


Qatar did not experience anti-government protests similar to those in other countries in the region, despite calls for protests made on Facebook in February and March.

Municipal elections were held in May. In November, the government committed to holding the first elections to the Shura Council, postponed since 2008, in 2013.

A law prohibiting human trafficking was passed in October. Other laws reported to be under review included the 2002 Protection of Society law, which permits detention without charge for up to six months.

Freedom of expression

At least two men were arrested apparently because they were suspected of criticizing the government, and two people were jailed for blasphemy. At least 46 people, most of them foreign nationals, were convicted on charges of "illicit sexual relations" and either deported or imprisoned followed in some cases by deportation.

  • Salem al-Khawari, a civil servant, was arrested on 7 February and held without charge until 18 October. He was denied access to his family for three months, during which he was allegedly made to remain standing for up to 15 hours a day, prevented from sleeping and beaten. The authorities gave no reason for his detention and no investigation into his alleged torture was known to have been held.

  • Sultan al-Khalaifi, a blogger and founder of a local human rights organization, was arrested on 2 March by state security officials in plain clothes who also searched his home. He was detained incommunicado for a week and was released without charge on 1 April.

  • In February, a 41-year-old Qatari man was reported to have been sentenced to a five-year prison term after a court in Doha convicted him of blasphemy.

Migrants' rights

Migrant workers, who make up more than 80 per cent of Qatar's population and come mostly from south and south-east Asia, were inadequately protected under the law and continued to be exploited and abused by employers. In May, the International Trade Union Confederation criticized workers' conditions in Qatar, particularly those of women domestic workers and men employed in constructing facilities for football's 2022 World Cup, and called for major improvements.

Discrimination – denial of nationality

The authorities continued to deny Qatari nationality to some 100 people, mostly members of al-Murra, a tribe said to have supported a coup attempt in 1996. Those stripped of their nationality subsequently faced problems such as being denied employment opportunities, social security and health care, and being prevented from obtaining Qatari passports. They had no means of remedy before the courts.

Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments

At least six men and women, all foreign nationals, were sentenced to floggings of either 40 or 100 lashes for offences related to alcohol consumption or "illicit sexual relations". Only Muslims considered medically fit were liable to have such sentences carried out. It was not known if any of the sentences were implemented.

Death penalty

At least three people were sentenced to death; at least 19 prisoners were believed to be on death row at the end of 2011, including at least six sentenced in 2001 after they were convicted of involvement in a 1996 coup attempt. No executions were reported.

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