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Special judge appointed by blockading countries voted against them at ICJ: Al Khulaifi
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Special judge appointed by blockading countries voted against them at ICJ: Al Khulaifi

Tribune News Network


Dr Mohammed Abdulaziz Al Khulaifi, Head of the legal team and representative from Qatar in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), has revealed a rare instance in the ruling issued by the UN top court in favour of Qatar regarding the jurisdiction of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in considering the Qatari complaint in the airspace blockade issue.

Dr Al Khulaifi said the ruling came by unanimous votes by the members of the tribunal, including the special judge appointed by the blockading countries. In a rare instance, the special judge voted against the blockading states that appointed him.

“This is a sign of the insignificance of these defences and their lack of credibility in the court of law,” Dr Al Khulaifi told Al Jazeera in an interview.

“As you know, Qatar has submitted its complaint to this organisation concerned with deciding civil aviation issues since the beginning of the blockade. The council approved by a majority votes to accept jurisdiction in mid-2018... The blockading countries decided on the basis of Article 84 of the Chicago Agreement and Article II of the (IASTA) agreement on air services for transit, to resume this decision before the ICJ. Today, we are pleased with this decision,” he said.

“We congratulate the government and people of Qatar on this third judicial victory since the beginning of the siege in June, 2017,” he added.

Dr Al Khulaifi said the second ground of appeal, which claimed that the “real issue” in the dispute was not their violations of the Chicago Convention and IASTA, but rather an issue of countermeasures taken by these countries to protect their national security on the basis of their false accusations that Qatar supports and finances terrorism. The ICJ once again refused to give any credence to those falsehoods, he added.

Dr Al Khulaifi pointed out that the court also refused to respond or address these defences that are not based on valid evidence.

“The four countries were unable to provide any convincing evidence to the court and the result was the unanimous rejection of all of these appeals,” he said.

In response to a question related to the next legal step, Dr Al Khulaifi clarified that the ICAO Council gave the blockading countries a certain period to respond to the Qatari complaint and this period will expire based on the date set after seven days from now.

“The blockading countries now have seven days to respond in writing to the Qatari complaint. Then the council will see what it deems appropriate either by giving the parties another round of written notes or directing them for oral arguments.”

In response to a question about any proactive steps from the blockading countries with regard to this air embargo, he said, “The door is open for the blockading countries to resort to all the means stipulated in the agreement to resolve this dispute.”

He said the reason Qatar resorted to ICAO from day one is that it is the competent authority to look into this civil aviation dispute and it will only be resolved under the umbrella of this organisation.

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