Qataris hire Swiss lawyers to sue Gulf 'siege' states


Doha (AFP)

A top Qatari human rights group said Wednesday it will employ Swiss lawyers to seek compensation for those impacted by the decision of Gulf countries to cut ties with the emirate.

Ali bin Smaikh Al-Marri, chairman of Qatar's National Human Rights Commission, said his group would take action against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which cut ties with Qatar this month.

"We'll be coordinating to start legal action with those affected by these sanctions," Marri told a news conference.

"The three countries are responsible to compensate those affected," he said, adding many Qataris qualified for compensation.

"Some cases will be filed in courts in those three countries and in some courts that have international jurisdictions, like in Europe, related to compensation."

Marri refused to say which Swiss firm would be employed, but said a statement would be released in the near future.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain announced the suspension of political, economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the emirate of support for extremist groups -- a claim Doha denies.

The four states closed their airspace to Qatari carriers and blocked the emirate's only land border, a vital route for its food imports. They also ordered all Qataris to leave and their own nationals to return home.

Many Qataris own properties and businesses in these countries.

One senior official said recently that most Qataris own "two or three properties and a villa" in Saudi alone.

Thousands of families are also affected as parents are drawn from Qatar and one of the countries opposed to Doha, and will have property in both.

The Gulf crisis, the worst to hit the region in years, shows no sign of abating.

Last week, Riyadh laid down a list of 13 demands for Qatar to meet by July 3, including ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a downgrade of diplomatic ties with Iran and the shutdown of a Turkish military base in the emirate.

The United Arab Emirates has told Qatar it should take the demands seriously or face a "divorce" from its Gulf neighbours.

Qatar said it rejects all foreign interference in its policies.