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EU Parliament demands ban on the sale of surveillance technologies to the UAE

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9 months 1 week

EU Parliament demands ban on the sale of surveillance technologies to the UAE

The European Parliament have adopted a resolution calling for an EU-wide ban on the export of all security equipment to the UAE that could be used for the purposes of internal repression.

In recent years, several EU member states have exported offensive cyber-surveillance software to the country, which has enabled the Emirati government to more efficiently control the use of communication technologies.

The UAE’s repressive 2012 Cybercrime Law has effectively banned online criticism of the authorities and led to the imprisonment of scores of government critics, including teachers, judges, journalists, lawyers and human rights activists.

Last week’s resolution called on the UAE to amend this law, as well as others, which MEP’s said were being “repeatedly used to prosecute human rights defenders.”

Demanding the release of all prisoners of conscience in the country, EU Parliamentarians slammed the Emirati regime for its increasingly authoritarian turn - citing a prevalence of arbitrary arrests, shut-downs on civil society groups and “grossly unfair” trials.

Spanish MEP Miguel Crespo said that the level of repression in the UAE would not be possible without the sale of security equipment by EU member states.

Last year it was revealed that Britain’s BAE systems had made large-scale sales of mass surveillance technologies to the UAE, enabling the authorities to monitor the movements and communications of human rights activists in the country.  According to Campaigns Against Arms Trade (CAAT), between 2008 -2018, UK sales of dual-use technology, software and security equipment often used for military purposes, stood at £6.9bn.

Moreover, research produced by Citizen Lab, a Toronto-based research laboratory focusing on digital technology and human rights, found that in recent years German and French companies have exported hacking software to the UAE, which has been used for the purposes of cyber-attacks on government critics.

Parliamentarians urged EU member states to implement “an EU-wide ban on the export, sale and maintenance of any form of security equipment to the UAE, including internet surveillance technology, which could be used for internal repression”, and to make the respect for human rights activists “a precondition to any further development between the EU and the UAE.”

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media@icfuae.org.uk