UK govt should use influence to press UAE on human rights concerns
At a meeting in Parliament, in the run up to International Human Rights Day, speakers from a range of organisations called on the UK government to use their influence to press the UAE to take action on human rights concerns in the Gulf state.
In the House of Commons, Ahmed Mansoor UAE human rights activist spoke to a meeting via Skype alongside Harriet McCulloch (Reprieve) and Andrew Smith (Campaigns Against Arms Trade – CAAT).
Mansoor addressed the meeting via Skype, because as Andy Slaughter MP, shadow minister for Human Rights noted, Mansoor has been banned from travelling by the Emirati authorities.
Ahmed Mansoor told Parliament in his address that there needed to be greater pressure exerted on the UAE in order to improve the human rights situation in the country. Mansoor called on the UK government to exert pressure in public and private and use its influence to press the UAE to respect human rights in the country.
Ahmed Mansoor won the 2015 Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders award and at the meeting explained the campaign of intimidation that he has faced whilst campaigning in the UAE. He noted that worryingly, this intimidation had become “commonplace” in the UAE.
With it being widely acknowledged that the UK UAE relationship is very strong, Andrew Smith of CAAT gave a detailed breakdown of how close the two countries have become. Noting that there had been an increase in the number of meetings between the two specifically on arms sales, the audience learnt that the UAE had in fact had more meetings on arms deals than Saudi Arabia.
The speakers all agreed that it was this strong relationship which made it incumbent upon the UK to raise the human rights concerns with the UAE. As Harriet McCulloch of Reprieve drew attention to, the Emirati authorities have tortured activists and prisoners and despite the UN raising concerns about the use of torture not one single case of torture has been investigated.
The meeting in parliament drew attention to the concerns about the threat to human rights in the UAE. There are many examples of abuses that can be cited – but the meeting opened with an insight into the treatment of a political prisoner and the torture they might face.