Qatar detained BBC crew for 'trespassing'

The Qatari government says journalist and team broke Qatari law while gathering information on migrant workers'

Qatar detained BBC crew for 'trespassing'

World Bulletin / News Desk 

The Qatari government has said that a BBC television crew detained by the authorities earlier this month in Doha had "trespassed on private property".

In a statement, Qatar's Government Communications Office said that the government had organized a press tour for several foreign reporters with the aim of providing "a better understanding of the challenges Qatar is facing – and the progress it is making – on the issue of migrant labor".

According to the Wednesday release, the government had "invited a dozen reporters to see – first-hand – some sub-standard labor accommodation, as well as some of the newer labor villages.

"We gave the reporters free rein to interview whomever they chose and to roam unaccompanied in the labor villages," it added.

The tour also included one-on-one interviews with senior officials, including the labor minister, the government release added.

"Perhaps anticipating that the government would not provide this sort of access, the BBC crew decided to do their own site visits and interviews in the days leading up to the planned tour," it went on.

"In doing so, they trespassed on private property, which is against the law in Qatar, just as it is in most countries," the statement asserted.

According to the government release, the owner of the private property in question filed an official complaint, prompting security forces to detain the BBC crew.

"The crew was brought before a public prosecutor who released them after the completion of the legal procedures," the release said.

Qatar had previously come under scathing criticism from international rights organizations owing to the poor living and working conditions of migrant laborers working in the oil-rich country, especially in the construction sector.

Doha has denied any violation of laborers' rights, stressing that it would "deal strictly with any violations by construction companies against workers, especially when it comes to migrants."

On Monday, the BBC said one of its TV crews had been arrested and held for two days in prison while reporting on migrant laborers' living conditions in Qatar.

The Wednesday BBC release said the Qatari government had given the journalists who took part in the press tour an opportunity to see first-hand the problems Qatar was facing and the progress made in addressing them.

"The BBC was meant to be part of that tour, and would have been, if they had not chosen to break Qatari laws," the release said.

It added: "By trespassing on private property and running afoul of Qatari laws, the BBC reporter made himself the story. We sincerely hope that this was not his intention.

"Moreover, we deeply regret that he was unable to report the real story, which is that the government and the private sector are making significant progress in efforts to improve the lives and labor conditions of guest workers in Qatar," the BBC statement concluded.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Mayıs 2015, 16:37