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Human rights and the UAE

Human rights and the UAE

It will be hard to win the battle for credibility against Human Rights Watch if we keep arresting labourers on salaries of AED 650 a month.

January 27, 2011 3:34 by

If there is one thing that still manages to amuse Kipp, it’s some good old fashioned irony. Pretty much like the local press often serves up.

Take, for instance, the recent conflicting headlines in the local press: “Rights group says Gulf states harassing activists,” ‘Human-rights report is ‘sensationalist': UAE,” “70 workers arrested in Dubai following unrest“, and (from the ever-optimistic Emirates 24|7) “UAE’s efforts lauded by HRW.”

So, we start with a critique of the authoritarian measures in place, published by the AP and used on Yahoo Maktoob; from there, we move to a rather interesting contrast between a slamming of the apparently ‘sensational’ and ‘tabloid’ like reporting on human rights, to a report on workers being deported after stirring up trouble. Finally we have trusty Emirates 24|7, which takes an entirely different interpretation to things and pats the government heartily on its back for its human right efforts.

But back to the start. According to the AP, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2011 that the human rights situation has deteriorated in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Yemen with “authorities harassing, prosecuting and jailing activists who advocate political reforms and greater press freedoms.” Here in the UAE, the report mentions, government authorities have been cracking down on those spreading dissent on the web; mostly by blocking blogs, forums and those net portals conducive to such dissent. Apparently not only does the government interrogate the activists who post provocative articles online, but it has also been putting pressure on the Jurist Association (the only independent organization that has been promoting the rule of law since its establishment in 1980).

“The actions by the UAE authorities against its human rights advocates are completely inconsistent with the government’s message that this is an open and tolerant country,” said HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson, who was quick to warn “Tunisians are not the only ones in the Arab world who will insist that no government has the right to trample their rights.”

Now if that isn’t the exact opposite of ‘lauding UAE efforts’ Kipp doesn’t quite know what it is. But Emirates 24-7 preferred to take a different interpretation to the HRW report, saying the UAE Ministry of Labour “welcomed the fact that international human and labour rights advocacy groups chose to hold the UAE to high standards when reporting on the conditions of foreign workers in the UAE.”

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