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Report updated November 2012

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Child population
270,000 (UNICEF, 2010)

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, schools, penal system and alternative care settings.

There appears to be no confirmation in the Penal or Family Codes of a “right” of parents and others to use corporal punishment in childrearing, but legal provisions against violence and assault are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment. The near universal acceptance of corporal punishment in “disciplining” children necessitates clarity in law that no degree or kind of such punishment is acceptable or lawful. Any legal defences of “reasonable chastisement” or similar – in legislation or common law – should be repealed, and explicit prohibition enacted of all corporal punishment, however light and whoever the perpetrator.

Explicit prohibition should be enacted in legislation applicable to all education settings, public and private, religious and secular. All judicial corporal punishment of children (under 18) should be prohibited, including Shari’a based punishments Explicit prohibition should also be enacted in relation to all alternative care settings, including public and private day care, residential institutions, foster care, etc.

Current legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Provisions against violence and abuse in the Criminal Code (2004), the Code of Criminal Procedure (2004), the Civil Code (2004), the Juveniles Act (1994), the Family Code (2006) and the Constitution (2003, in force 2005) are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing. In 2009, a Children’s Bill was being discussed, but we have no further information regarding its provisions or progress.

Schools

The Code of Conduct for schools states that corporal punishment should not be used and there is also a Ministerial Decree (2001) against its use, but there is no explicit prohibition in law.

Penal system

Corporal punishment is lawful as a sentence for crime. Article 19 of the Juvenile Act explicitly prohibits flogging of juveniles under 16: “A juvenile over 14 and under 16 years of age who commits a serious or major offence shall not be sentenced to death, imprisonment with hard labour or flogging but rather to one of the following penalties….” Persons aged 16 and 17 are subject to the penalties in the Criminal Code, which do not include corporal punishment. Article 36 of the Constitution (2003) states that “no person may be subjected to torture, or any degrading treatment”.

However, according to article 1 of the Criminal Code, the Code and other criminal laws do not apply to Hudud or Qisas offences when the victim or the alleged offender is a Muslim: “Islamic Sharia provisions concerning the following crimes are applicable if the suspect or the victim is a Muslim: 1- The crimes such as theft, adultery, defamation, drinking alcohol and apostasy. 2- The crimes of retaliation and the blood money. Otherwise, the crimes and the punishments are determined due to this law and any other law.” Punishments for these offences under Shari’a law include flogging and amputation, though the Government has stated that these penalties are not imposed in practice (11 May 2011, CAT/C/QAT/2, Second report to the Committee Against Torture, page 27).

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions. The Act regulating penal and correctional institutions (Act No. 3, 2009) does not include corporal punishment among permitted disciplinary measures. It repeals the Prisons Act (Act No. 3, 1995) which authorised flogging.

Alternative care

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in other institutions and forms of childcare.

Prevalence research

None identified.

Recommendations by human rights treaty bodies

Committee on the Rights of the Child

“While noting that measures are being taken to address corporal punishment in the context of disciplinary measures in schools and in the penal system, the Committee expresses concern that corporal punishment of children is still lawful in the family and alternative care settings.

“The Committee urges the State party:

  1. to critically review its current legislation with a view to prevent and end the use of corporal punishment of children as a method of discipline and to introduce explicit legislation prohibiting all forms of corporal punishment of children in all settings, including in the family, schools, penal system and alternative care settings;
  2. to introduce public education, awareness-raising and social mobilization campaigns on alternative non-violent forms of discipline with the involvement of children in order to change public attitudes to corporal punishment;
  3. to take into account while drafting legislation and designing policies the Committee’s general comment No. 8 (2006) on the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment.”

(14 October 2009, CRC/C/QAT/CO/2, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 39 and 40)

“The Committee is seriously concerned that, contrary to article 37 (a) of the Convention, under the 1994 Juvenile Act there is a possibility that persons under 18 may be subject to judicial sanctions such as flogging.

“The Committee recommends that the State party take immediate steps to ensure that the law prohibits the imposition of flogging and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on persons who may have committed crimes when they were under 18.

“The Committee is concerned that there is insufficient information about and awareness of the ill-treatment of children within the family and institutions.

“The Committee recommends that the State party:

  1. conduct a study to assess the nature and extent of ill-treatment and abuse of children, and design policies and programmes to address it;
  2. take legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence against children, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse in the family and in institutions;
  3. carry out public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment of children and promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment….

“Noting the 1993 Ministerial Decree which bans corporal punishment in schools, the Committee remains concerned that this issue is not addressed effectively.

“The Committee recommends that the State party raise awareness of the negative impact of corporal punishment among teachers and other professionals working in schools, and take other appropriate measures to prevent and eliminate it.”
(6 November 2001, CRC/C/15/Add.163, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 43, 44, 45, 46, 53 and 54)

Committee Against Torture

“While noting that the new law regulating penal and correctional institutions (Act No. 3 of 2009) makes no provision for the use of flogging as a disciplinary sanction unlike the previous law (Act No. 3 of 1995), the Committee remains concerned that flogging and stoning continue to be punishments under article 1 of the Criminal Code. According to information before the Committee, and which the State Party did not dispute, at least 45 people were given flogging sentences between 2009 and 2011 (art. 2).

The State party should put an end to its imposition of corporal punishment, which constitutes a breach of the Convention, and modifying its legislation accordingly. The State party should ensure that criminal sanctions are in full conformity with the Convention.”
([November 2012], CAT/C/QAT/CO/2 Advance Unedited Version, Concluding observations on second report, para. 12)

“Certain provisions of the Criminal Code allow punishments such as flogging and stoning to be imposed as criminal sanctions by judicial and administrative authorities. These practices constitute a breach of the obligations imposed by the Convention. The Committee notes with interest that authorities are presently considering amendments to the Prison Act that would abolish flogging.

The State Party should review the legal provisions of the Criminal Code which authorize the use of such prohibited practices as criminal sanctions by judicial and administrative officers, with a view to abolishing them immediately.”
(25 July 2006, CAT/C/QAT/CO/1, Concluding observations on initial report, para. 12)

Universal Periodic Review

Qatar was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2010 (session 7). The following recommendations were made (A/HRC/14/2, Report of the Working Group, paras. 85(7), 85(14) and 86(10)):

“To include in its national legislation the concept of torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention against Torture, and to enact legislation to abolish all types of corporal punishment and other forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment (Mexico);

“To prohibit all forms of corporal punishment against children, both boys and girls (Chile);

“To consider abolishing the death penalty and corporal punishment, in particular against children (Brazil)”

The Government accepted these recommendations, stating that they have already been or are in the process of being implemented (A/HRC/14/2/Add.1, Report of the Working Group: Addendum, page 4; A/HRC/14/L.10, Report of the Human Rights Council on its fourteenth session, para. 214).

Examination in the second cycle is scheduled for 2014.

This analysis has been compiled from information from governmental and non-governmental sources, including reports on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every effort is made to maintain its accuracy. Please send us updating information and details of sources for missing information: info@endcorporalpunishment.org.

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