On Thursday evening, the Qatari Forum for Authors held a dialogue session entitled: “The Relationship between the Public Service and the Shura Council”, as part of the awareness sessions on the role of the Shura Council. The media session was presented by Badriya Hassan, who confirmed that the forum’s presentation of this session comes in implementation of the plans of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, aimed at spreading awareness of the importance of the Shura Council, and promoting this awareness within society.
The former Deputy President of the Court of Appeal, Professor Yusuf Al-zaman, was a guest of this session> he started the session by stating the rights and obligations which were covered by the Qatari Constitution, in particular article 54. Al-Zaman said: The constitution is the supreme basic law in the state, which takes the highest rank. Its principles and provisions must be respected by the minimum legislation, namely, laws and regulations, noting that section 3 of the Qatari Constitution establishes several rights and obligations foremost of which is that citizens are equal in rights and duties, and there is no difference between them in gender, color, language or religion.
The Qatari Constitution devoted the principle of equality and upheld a large number of freedoms. Article 54 stated that public office was the right of every citizen and a national duty. He added that The first legislation passed in Qatar was for public office in 1967, which meant that the State of Qatar was responsible for public office.
Regarding whether a Shura Council member is a public servant, Mr. Yusef Al-Zaman said that it is known that a Shura Council member has many competencies and tasks. When a Shura Council member reaches the chair, he must represent the entire country, as many obligations fall upon him. Including legislation and oversight of the work of the executive authority, as well as approving the budget, and all of this is considered a public service. Therefore, a member of the Shura Council is not considered a public employee, does not receive a salary from any other job entity, and has no connection with any party, and therefore must be a member of the Council. the Shura is independent, and is not considered a public servant.
Regarding the tasks that a Shura Council member performs, Al-Zaman said that they are performing a duty of service to the country, and therefore most legislation gives him powers and also provides him with immunity, unlike the public servant who does not have immunity. However, a Shura Council member has complete independence to perform the role entrusted to him. It is the enactment of legislation and oversight of the executive authority. Therefore, it is agreed that a member of the Shura Council is not a public servant, but rather performs a public service for the country and citizens.
Regarding the meaning of parliamentary immunity in the Shura Council, Al-Zaman said that a member of the Shura Council, when performing his work, must have immunity so that this immunity provides him with complete peace of mind in his work while giving his opinion when discussing laws, or while expressing his views on them, which requires that independent board member.
He added that a member of the Shura Council has both procedural and substantive immunity, and the constitution stipulates procedural immunity. When a member addresses any discussion or expresses any opinion in the council, even if it is about critical discussions, the legislator guarantees him immunity for those opinions he expresses in the council. Contrary to those he utters outside, except that if the opinion develops into insult and slander, the matter is different, and hence the right of a member of the Shura Council to discuss with all ease and freedom various matters, without any fear of any punishment for an opinion that he may have made with it.
He pointed out that with regard to immunity ratione materiae, the constitution also stipulates it, so that if a member of the Shura Council commits any act in violation of the law other than in cases of flagrante delicto, he may not be arrested, or any criminal investigation conducted with him, except with the approval of the Shura Council on this procedure.
On how the member maintains a non-conflict of interest or abuse of membership, Al-Zaman said that a member of the Shura Council represents the nation, and the most important qualities that he must possess are impartiality, integrity and transparency, and he must work for the public interest, not for the sake of his interest, individuals or the family. When discussing a topic in the Shura Council or in one of its committees, he must disclose his relationship to this topic or not.
He stressed that the experiment will succeed, and that the exercise of elections will correct itself, and we should not be afraid of exercising the electoral right, and that the voters themselves have a national duty to elect the good candidate, and the candidate himself must have the capabilities and be qualified to run.