ICFUAE speak at UN Human Rights Council Side Event in Geneva
ICFUAE participated in yesterday's event “Human Rights in UAE: Overview and follow-up of the 3rd UPR“, a side event during the 38th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The procedure, known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a UN mechanism involving a periodic appraisal of the human rights records of all UN member states. In the UAE's case the UPR took place in January 2018.
Yesterday’s event was attended by four civil society groups, namely ICJHR, Rights Realisation Centre, Alkarama Foundation and ICFUAE, as well as by Rodney Dixon, a UK barrister based in London and The Hague. The speakers re-emphasised the recommendations made during the 29th UPR session in January 2018 and debated the UAE´s recent response to these UPR recommendations.
Out of 230 recommendations made by UN member states the United Arab Emirates accepted a total of 132 and effectively rejected 98.
The panellists noted that while it seams positive that the UAE has accepted 132 of the recommendations, a closer inspection shows that the UAE´s response is incoherent and inconsistent. For instance, the UAE agreed with recommendation made by Belgium, Italy and Austria to create a safe environment for human rights defenders while simultaneously rejecting the pleas to end practices of torture and fully commit to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), submitted by Chile, Switzerland and Spain. “These contradictions leave us perplexed”, said Ines Osman, Legal Coordinator at the Alkarama Foundation.
By analysing UAE´s response, a clear pattern can be identified, Julia Legner from Alkarama noted. The UAE accepted only the most general and vague recommendations while rejecting more specific ones, such as calls to ratify particular human rights treaties or to amend domestic legislation in line with international human rights standards. “This does not increase our confidence in the UAE´s willingness to improve its human rights record” she said in her statement.
Another aspect mentioned was the UAE´s acceptance of recommendations relating to the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution to improve the role of civil society in the country. This recommendation was made by twelve member states including Norway, Tunisia, Bahrain and South Korea. It remains to be seen whether the UAE will stand by this promise. In light of the UAE´s dire human rights record and its persistent crack down on civil society, it seams unlikely the country will establish an independent Human Rights Institute in compliance with the Paris Principles.
ICFUAE raised issues of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances in the UAE, reminding the audience that between 2013 to 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared 87 arrests arbitrary and during the same period 37 actions were sent to the UAE by the Working Group of Enforced Disappearances (WGED), and that there had been "countless" more cases raised by human rights organisations in recent years.
ICFUAE went on to highlight a couple of cases of arbitrary arrests, which accrued since the last UPR in January 2018. One of the cases raised was the violent arrest of Princess Latifa bin Mohammad al-Maktoum, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai. Princess Latifa was abducted by Emirati security forces when she tried to escape the UAE in May of this year. The second case was the sentencing of prominent Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor to ten years in prison for his legitimate human rights advocacy in the UAE.
In these regards, ICFUAE called for the immediate and unconditional release of Sheikha Latifa and Ahmed Mansoor as well as insurances concerning their whereabouts and well-being.
ICFUAE called for a legislative ban on arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances and for the UAE to ratify the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and allow international organisations to monitor and investigate cases of torture.
In light of these well-documented cases of human rights violations it is imperative that the international community take note of such developments and closely monitor the UAE´s progress in relation to all UPR recommendations discussed today in Geneva.