DOHA, June 29 (Reuters) - A Qatari human rights group is hiring a Swiss law firm to help seek compensation for citizens affected by sanctions imposed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Lalive, a law firm with offices in Geneva, Zurich and Doha, is finalising an agreement with Qatar’s government-appointed National Human Rights Commission (QNHRC) that will be announced on Saturday, the sources said.
“The plan is to help Qataris pursue legal action against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which cut ties with Qatar this month,” said one of the sources, declining to be named under briefing rules.
Representatives of the Qatari, Saudi, UAE and Bahraini governments could not immediately be reached for comment.
Qataris are the wealthiest citizens in the world per capita enjoying wealth produced by the world’s largest exports of liquefied natural gas.
Many own assets worth millions of dollars in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, including hotels, real estate and farmland.
Others have cancelled travel plans and scrapped import deals with UAE-based firms since the countries cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed economic sanctions, accusing it of funding militants.
It was not immediately clear under what jurisdictional basis the legal claims would be made and whether governments involved would have to first agree to arbitration.
Ali al-Marri, chairman of QNHRC, told reporters on Wednesday that his organisation would pursue compensation claims in courts in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain as well as in Europe. He did not elaborate.
“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,” he said.
Lalive, which declined to comment, has practised in Qatar since 2006 and unlike other international law firms does not have offices in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.
The firm’s partners include Michael Schneider, an expert in international commercial arbitration who represented Saddam Hussein’s government in the U.N. Compensation Commission over claims related to Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. (Reporting by Tom Finn; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Toby Davis)