Shadow Human Rights Minister calls on UK government to review relationship with UAE
Shadow Human Rights Minister, Andy Slaughter MP, raised concerns about the use of torture in UAE prisons and the human rights situation. In a parliamentary debate on UK relations with the Gulf on May 4th 2016, calling for a review of the UKs special relationship with the UAE in light of UN reports on human rights violations there.
Andy Slaughter MP raised the serious violations in the United Arab Emirates in the debate tabled by Charlotte Leslie MP. Using the debate to get on the record serious concerns about human rights issues, Mr Slaughter MP noted that the Foreign and Commonwealth's Office recent report on Human Rights and Democracy had omitted the UAE as a country of concern, describing this as a "significant omission".
The shadow minister for human rights noted that there were 27 British nationals in detention in the UAE and used the debate to raise the case of former Leeds United football club managing director, David Haigh. Mr Haigh was detained in the UAE in May 2014 and upon return to the UK in April 2016 reported that he had been subject to beatings and ill-torture. During his detention the charges levelled at Mr Haigh included those under the Cyber Crimes Law, which Andy Slaughter described as "Orwellian" in his contribution to the debate.
Pressing the foreign office minister, Tobias Ellwood MP, on the issue Mr Slaughter reiterated his calls for the Government to review their relationship with the UAE in light of reports on torture in the UAE. Asking, "will the Prime Minister review the UK’s special relationship with the UAE in the light of the report by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention calling on the UAE to release several foreign nationals, including from Canada and the US, who it says have been detained arbitrarily, tortured and forced to sign confessions?"
The foreign office minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood MP, responded to the debate by emphasising the strategic importance of the Gulf countries and their relationships with the UK. Referencing the UKs economic and defence relationships with the countries and noting the UAE's work on challenging extremism - Mr Ellwood made no commitment to press the UAE on its human rights record.