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Thu 5 May 2016 01:01 PM

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Rights group slams Qatar espionage case court decision

Amnesty International calls for investigation into torture allegations of convicted Filipino nationals

Rights group slams Qatar espionage case court decision
Qatar flag

Amnesty International has slammed a decision by Qatar’s Court of Cassation to uphold the convictions of three Filipino nationals on charges of espionage.

The court upheld one life term and two sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment, the human rights group said in a statement.

James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle and North Africa program, said: “The court’s decision to uphold the convictions of these three men, after an unfair trial in which the authorities totally failed to investigate credible allegations of torture, is the latest demonstration of the deep flaws in Qatar’s criminal justice system, particularly as regards its treatment of migrant workers."

He called on authorities to "immediately announce a full investigation" into the men’s torture allegations and review the way the trials have been conducted.

“This case speaks volumes about the sincerity of the government’s stated commitment to extend justice to migrant workers,” Lynch said.

Ronaldo Lopez Ulep, one of the three men whose sentence was upheld on Tuesday, was arrested in Doha in April 2010.

According to information received by Amnesty International, he endured "repeated bouts of physical and psychological torture and other ill-treatment" for the first eight months of his detention and was then forced to sign a document in Arabic, a language which he could not read, that was later presented in court as a “confession".

Qatar’s treatment of foreign nationals, who make up more than 90 percent of the national workforce, has come under intense scrutiny in the build-up to the country hosting the 2022 World Cup.

In March, Amnesty International reported on serious abuses against migrant workers involved in the construction of Doha’s Khalifa stadium.

In response, the organiser of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar announced the appointment of an independent third party monitoring firm to audit the welfare of labourers working on construction projects.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) said that it has appointed Impactt Ltd to monitor issues such as the recruitment, employment, living and working conditions of everyone engaged on its projects.