Boris Johnson visits UAE amidst outrage from human rights campaigners
Boris Johnson met with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed yesterday to discuss regional developments and international security as part of a wider visit to the region.
This was the third leg of the British Foreign Secretary's regional tour which has seen him visit Iran and Oman in recent days. It is understood that himself and Bin Zayed covered issues of regional and international stability, UK-UAE bilateral relations, terrorism, and the on-going conflict in Yemen.
Shortly following his meeting with Bin Zayed, Johnson tweeted:
“Today I've been in the UAE on the last leg of my Gulf visit for discussion w/ Crown Prince @MohamedBinZayed & my counterpart @ABZayed on finding an end to the crisis in Yemen and the current regional tensions. UK is committed to stability, security and prosperity in the Gulf”
The visit was criticised by human rights campaigners who responded to Johnson's tweet by drawing attention the UAE's appalling record on human rights record as well as war crimes that it has allegedly committed in Yemen.
Drewery Drake, formerly of Amnesty International, tweeted in response to Johnson:
“Sorry, Secretary, did you ask him about unfair imprisonment of #humanrightsdefenders @warwickuni grad @DrAlRoken & @Ahmed_Mansoor or maybe #uaedeathincustody cases in #Yemen ? Really? And what did he reply?”
The International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE responded to Johnson's tweet in a similar tone by referencing the numerous cases of enforced disappearance's and arbitrary detention in the Emirates.
Since the 'Arab Spring' of 2011, repression has been heavily stepped up in the UAE. Over the years, organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented numerous cases of enforced disappearance's, arbitrary detention, torture, and unfair trials in the country.
Furthermore, the UAE have become increasingly dismissive towards international treaties, human rights law and UN conventions. It has been reported that in recent years, the UAE have contravened Arms Trade Treaties by exporting weaponry to Libya, Syria, and South Sudan. UN reports have also suggested that the Emirati state may be committing war crimes in Yemen, where they hold a significant naval, ground and air presence.
Yet despite this, the UK government continues to maintain close relations with the Emirati regime, and recently announced its intention to double bilateral trade to 25bn by 2020. Between 2012 and 2016 the UK licensed around £350m worth of arms for export to the UAE. A recent BBC investigation found that BAE systems had been exporting cyber-surveillance software to the UAE, which the Emirati authorities have used to spy on their citizens. In 2016 alone, around 300 people were detained in the UAE for comments made on social media platforms.
It is imperative that the British government not only hold the UAE to account over its human rights record, but take the necessary steps to ensure that all future trade deals are conditional upon the Emirati authorities' adherence to international human rights legislation.
- For more information press queries, or statements, please contact the ICFUAE Team at firstname.lastname@example.org