The State of Qatar is an absolute hereditary monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family. The Emir of Qatar is a monarch and serves as head of state and head of government. The House of Thani established their dynasty in the late 19th century and resumed power after Qatar gained independence from Britain in 1971. The western Asian country is supposed to exist as a constitutional monarchy under the constitution adopted in 2004. However, the ruling family allows no opposition from political factions and bans the existence of political parties.
Executive Branch of Government
The council of ministers serves as the executive body of the government Qatar. An advisory council in making policy decisions assists the emir, an all-powerful leader who answers to no one. The emir, however, should uphold the Islamic Sharia law. Also in the executive are the prime minister, the prime minister's deputy and cabinet ministers who are selected and dismissed by the emir.
Consultative Assembly Qatar
The consultative assembly holds the legislative power of Qatar. The assembly consists of 30 elected members and 15 appointees of the emir. The unicameral assembly has three primary roles according to the constitution. These roles include approving the national budget, passing legislation proposed by the executive, and monitoring the activities of the cabinet members. For laws to pass in the assembly, they requires a two-third majority vote. Members of the assembly who are appointed by the monarch serve for unlimited terms while the elected members serve for four-year renewable terms.
The Legal System of Qatar
The legal system of Qatar is derived mainly from the Islamic law. The country accepts corporal punishments, death sentences, flogging and stoning for offenders. Sharia law is the primary basis for judicial procedures. The country has stringent regulations on alcohol consumption, sexual relations, and dress code. Muslim nationals are, for example, banned from consuming alcohol or pork while non-Muslim expatriates need a license to drink alcohol or consume pork. The laws of Qatar are binding even to foreigners. For instance, engaging in illicit sexual affairs will attract a flogging as a punishment. The judiciary is an independent body made up of several courts. Courts in the country include the supreme court, court of appeal, criminal courts (higher and lower), civil court, and labor courts.
Human Rights in Qatar
The state of human rights in Qatar is of concern to international bodies. Practices such as flogging and stoning amount to torture. Furthermore, the restrictive labor rules to foreign laborers (especially low-income earners and domestic workers) expose them to harsh conditions, such as the inability to change employers or jobs, low or no pay, as well as restrictions on leaving the country. These conditions leave most foreign laborers in a life of servitude and fear of fighting for their rights. Like most Islamic nations, women's rights are not entirely appreciated. Qatar is, however, outstanding for its media freedom, by establishing the Al Jazeera satellite station, the first of its kind in the Arab world.
Foreign Relations of Qatar
Qatar has diplomatic relations with other nations and is a member of several regional and international bodies, such as OPEC, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Nations, Interpol, and the World Health Organization. Qatar maintains defense relations with countries like Iran. Presently, there are many countries in Asia and the Middle East with sour relations because Qatar is suspected of supporting terrorist and other extremist groups.