Vincentians must distance themselves from PM Gonsalves’ statement on Qatar
Searchlight published a press statement written by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, titled “St Vincent and the Grenadines applauds the State of Qatar for hosting the FIFA World Cup”.
In this press statement, what Gonsalves appears to do, falls nothing short of defending and praising, if not celebrating Qatar. Moreover, he also appears to cherry-pick good things about Qatar to highlight how “magnificent” a host Qatar is for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Additionally, throughout this press statement, Gonsalves appears to lambast individuals and organizations for their criticisms leveled at Qatar. Not once did I see the Prime Minister address the human rights abuses occurring in Qatar. After reading the aforementioned press statement, I was left totally flabbergasted and disappointed!
I must respectfully remind the Prime Minister that Qatar, like any other State, is NOT immune from criticism from other States or actors in the international community.
The criticisms leveled at Qatar are not unjustified. The international community is right to condemn Qatar for its past and present failures to protect human rights and prevent various human rights abuses against citizens, migrants, women and girls, and LGBTQ+ persons, to name a few.
Not all of us in St Vincent and the Grenadines are celebrating the so-called “…amazing spectacle and sporting excellence on display in Qatar at the 2022 FIFA World Cup”. There is a dark cloud hovering over this event.
The Prime Minister’s personal views in relation to Qatar do not represent the views of all Vincentians. I am sure that many of us are appalled at what has been happening in Qatar and the many reported scandals surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
As a State, SVG can respect Qatar and its achievements without turning a blind eye to or overlooking its track record concerning human rights violations.
Qatar is a party to various human rights treaties. By becoming a party to these treaties, Qatar assumed obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. Any steps that Qatar has taken to address the human rights violations taking place in Qatar, I commend them.
Nevertheless, I strongly condemn human rights violations occurring in Qatar and I call on Qatar to do more to protect human rights. As a Vincentian and as an International Human Rights Lawyer, I distance myself from the Prime Minister’s statements in the aforementioned press statement and I call on other Vincentians to do so.
Author: Jeshua Bardoo is a Vincentian lawyer with an LLM in International Human Rights Law. He is also the President of Equal Rights, Access and Opportunities SVG Inc, a 2012 National Exhibition Scholar, a 2019 Chevening Scholar, and a 2022/23 Fellow at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He can be contacted via email at [email protected]