It will take more than empty rhetoric to address the issue of human rights in the UAE
To mark the UN's International Human Rights Day last week, the UAE's Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Interior hosted a lecture in Abu Dhabi titled “The UAE and Human Rights: Implementing the Highest International Standards”
Delivered by Dr. Ahmed Yusaf Al Mansouri, the lecture sought to celebrate the UAE's human rights record.
In his address Al Mansouri stated:
“The UAE has been keen, since its establishment, to respect and promote human rights and ensure its place in the constitution and national legislation, through the adoption of the highest international standards and the ratification of many international human rights conventions,”
It is with bitter irony, however, that in the same week as this lecture took place, an Emirati delegate to the UN stormed out of a human rights meeting in Geneva after refusing to address criticisms made by civil society groups concerning the country's recent record on human rights.
Far from taking the appropriate steps to 'implement the highest international standards of human rights', recent years have seen a substantial increase in practices of arbitrary detention, curtailments on freedom of speech, torture, and the systematic use of enforced disappearances in the UAE.
In March alone of this year, the award winning human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor, was arbitrarily detained by security officials, whilst journalist, Tayseer al-Najjar, and academic, Dr Nasser Bin Ghaith, received heavy prison sentences for social media comments. International campaigns have since been launched by organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch calling for their immediate and unconditional release.
Moreover, contrary to adhering to international standards, the UAE have failed to engage seriously with UN mechanisms. In recent years, Emirati authorities have refused numerous requests from UN special rapporteurs to visit the UAE to monitor issues such as arbitrary detention and torture. In spite of the fact that the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances (WDEG) have documented numerous cases of enforced disappearances and called on the Emirati authorities to reveal the location of those concerned, the UAE refuse to comply.
It will take a lot more than the empty platitudes and rhetoric delivered by Dr. Al Mansouri last week to address the growing concerns from the international community regarding human rights in the UAE. For these kind of events to be taken seriously, concrete steps must be taken to bring civil, political and legislative process in the UAE in line with international human rights legislation.