Qatar’s Emir has issued amendments to the country’s Penal Code. Under the amendments, anyone who broadcasts, publishes, or re-publishes rumours, fake news, or biased news, locally or abroad, with the intent to harm national interests, stir up public opinion, or infringe on social harmony or public order will be jailed. Biased broadcasting or publication will be jailed for up to five years and fined 100,000 Riyals. The amendments have been published in the Official Gazette.
Qatar’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister has issued Qatar Decision No. 95/2019 on controls and procedures for the exit of some categories of expatriates who are not subject to the Labour Law. The Decision allows expatriates to exit the country during the validity of their work contract. It applies to workers in Ministries and other Government agencies as well as public bodies and institutions. In addition, it applies to those in the oil and gas sector, maritime industries, agriculture and grazing, domestic and private office workers. An employer has the right to submit a request to the Interior Ministry with the names of those who may require approval before they leave the country because of the nature of their work, up to 5% of the number of their employees. Domestic workers should inform their employer at least 72 hours before they want to leave.
Qatar’s Financial Centre Regulatory Authority is understood to have banned crypto currency trading although no official announcement has been made. The ban apparently applies to ‘anything of value that acts as a substitute for currency, that can be digitally traded or transferred and can be used for payment or investment purposes’. However, digital forms of securities or any other financial instrument under the remit of the Authority, the Qatar Central Bank or the Qatar Financial Markets Authority, will apparently still be allowed.
A group of experts have called for an independent body to oversee public private partnerships in Qatar to be established. The experts made their call during a seminar on Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) which was hosted by the Qatar Chamber, the Qatar International Centre for Conciliation & Arbitration and the College of Law at Qatar University. The body would serve a similar function to competition commissions in other countries.
The Qatari Interior Ministry has announced the National Address Law (Qatar Law No. 24/2017) will be implemented soon. The Ministry added the relevant procedural and operational steps needed to implement the law have already been completed. The Law is part of an e-Government and digitisation strategy. When it is implemented, nationals and residents will have to register their addresses via the Metrash2 application or at any of the Interior Ministry centres in the country.
Every citizen or expatriate or their legal representatives will have to register their residential address, land telephone number, mobile number, email, employer address for Government and private sector employees and permanent address abroad. The guardians of minors will have to register them and verify the data is correct.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft law regulating the press, publications, media activities and the arts and referred it to the Shoura Council to consider. If approved it will replace Qatar Law No. 8/1979 on Press and Publication and Qatar Decree-Law No. 16/1993 on Advertising, Public Relations and Artistic Production and Works. In June, the Emir issued a law establishing the Media City which will have its own legal personality and independent budget. The City allows licensed companies to hire their employees, regulate their status and import supplies without having to register them and benefits from with tax exemptions for 20 years.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft law to replace Qatar Law No. 25/2004 on Combating Concealment of Illegal Commercial, Economic and Professional Practices by Non-Qataris. It applies to those using the name, license or commercial record of another when these activities are for the benefit of an actor’s own account, or in association with others. Anyone violating the law will be jailed for up to one year and/or fined between 20,000 and 500,000 Riyals. In every case, the court will order the confiscation of the property in question or the proceeds from it, taking into consideration the rights of bona fide third parties. The court may also order the revocation of any relevant license, or annul any relevant commercial registration and close premises or suspend activity for up to one year.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved draft amendments to the Labour Law, Qatar Law No. 14/2004. If approved, labour dispute settlement committees will be established by a Ministerial Decision from the Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved the abolition of the Kafala system which requires some foreign workers to obtain exit visas to leave the country and get approval before changing jobs. Those affected by the visa change include agricultural, casual, domestic and public sector workers. The abolition of no objection certificates will allow employees to change jobs, providing they comply with contractual requirements. The changes will come into effect in January 2020. The Cabinet has also adopted draft minimum wage legislation which if approved will apply to all employees regardless of their nationality.
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