ICFUAE rebukes British MPs praise for UAE's approach to governance
ICFUAE strongly rebukes the Conservative MP, Leo Docherty, for heaping praise upon the Emirati authorities whilst saying nothing of their appalling record on human rights.
Docherty is currently visiting the UAE as part of a delegation from the UK-UAE All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). Stating that the UK and the UAE had a “shared future”, the Conservative MP said the British government could “learn some important lessons” from the UAE's “innovative approach to governance, including e-governance”
Whilst it is true that the Emirati authorities have invested heavily in ICT infrastructure in recent years, Docherty's comments disguise the ways in which some of these technological developments have been utilised by the Emirati regime to crack-down on freedom of speech and imprison human rights defenders in the country.
Since the institution of the cybercrime law in 2012, which has effectively criminalised online criticism of the regime, scores of people in the UAE have been arbitrarily detained, forcefully disappeared, and in many cases tortured, as a result of their social media activity.
Last year, the prominent human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor, was arbitrarily detained by security officials, whilst journalist, Tayseer al-Najjar, and academic, Dr Nasser Bin Ghaith, received prison sentences of three and ten years respectively for social media comments. According to the Emirates Media and Studies Centre, in 2016 alone around 300 people were detained for their online activities.
Is it this kind of “innovative approach to governance” that Doherty feels the British government should take lessons from?
Docherty, who is a graduate of Sandhurst and a member of the Defence Select Committee, additionally described the UAE's role in the wider region as one based around “peace”, “stability” and “prosperity.”
Is he not aware of the humanitarian crises that has engulfed Yemen since UAE's military intervention in the country as part of the Saudi-led coalition? Since the onset of the conflict, the UN estimates that over 10,000 lives have been lost and up to seven million people have been placed on the brink of famine in one of the regions poorest countries.
UN reports have suggested that the UAE may be committing war crimes in Yemen. Additionally, it was recently revealed that UAE forces have been running clandestine prisons where there have been numerous reports of extreme torture.
Furthermore, in contravention to Doherty's claim of promoting stability, it has been reported that in recent years that UAE have contravened Arms Trade Treaties by exporting weaponry to Libya, Syria and South Sudan.
By not holding the UAE authorities to account over their human rights record, Doherty, and the British government more broadly, must bear some responsibility over these issues.
The UK government 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.
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. Leo Doherty's recent comments, however, are all too illustrative of a foreign policy which prioritises trade over social justice and human rights.