Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions and Answers in relation to the UAE during March and April 2016
The following is a summary of Foreign and Commonwealth office questions and answers in regards to the UAE, during the months of March and April 2016. The questions cover the following topics: Political prisoners; British Nationals; Police; the Arms trade with the UAE and on the limited press freedom.
The questions were asked by Labour member of the House of Lords Baronness Kinnock of Holyhead, Labour MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Ealing Southall Virendra Sharma and Labour MP for Belfast South Alasdair McDonnell.
On the 7th March, Baronness Kinnock of Holyhead asked the government whether they have raised the treatment of political prisoners with the government of the UAE.
On the 21st March, the question received a vague answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns who stated that "if" there are concerns, they are made clear to the Emirati authorities.
On the 8th April, Virendra Sharma asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has held with the government of the UAE on the number of political prisoners held in that country; and what representations he has made on behalf of such prisoners.
In his response on the 18th April, Tobias Ellwood simply avoided answering the question and instead vaguely stated that human rights are regularly discussed with the UAE, without giving any examples of recent discussions and no mention of what representations have been made on the behalf of such prisoners.
British Nationals in the UAE
On the 14th March, Andy Slaughter asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what reports his Department has received on alleged mistreatment and torture of British citizens in detention in the UAE since 2011.
He was answered by Tobias Ellwood on the 22nd March, that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Consular Directorate is aware of 37 cases of British nationals who have made allegations of torture or mistreatment in detention in the United Arab Emirates since and including 2011.
On the 14th April, Andy Slaughter asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of compliance by the UAE with international treaties and norms on the use of torture.
He was answered on the 19th April by Phillip Hammond, that that the UK has expressed it's concern to the authorities, including the expectation that all cases will be thoroughly investigated in line with international standards. He also stated that the UAE confirmed they are committed to investigating any allegations of mistreatment, however he did not answer with his own assessment of the reality of compliance by the UAE.
On the 8th April, Virendra Sharma asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations his Department has received on the involvement in human rights abuses of police officers from the United Arab Emirates who have been trained by UK police officers.
He was answered by Tobias Ellwood on the 18th April, stating that
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not received any representations on the involvement in human rights abuses of police officers from the United Arab Emirates who have been trained by UK police officers.
On the 8th April, Virendra Sharma asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assurances the Government has sought from the government of the UAE on the use of military equipment purchased from the UK for the repression of its citizens.
He was answered by Tobias Ellwood on the 14th April. He gave a generic answer on the UK's "rigorous and transparent" export controls and that all export licence applications are made on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. He also stated that the government draws on all relevant information, including reports from NGOs and overseas networks, and that the UK "will not" issue an export licence if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.
On the 21st April, Dr Alasdair McDonnell asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to the UAE government on the removal of restrictions on press freedom in the UAE and the Middle East.
He was answered by Tobias Ellwood on the 27th April, who stated that the government continues to underline to the UAE that people "must be allowed to freely discuss and debate issues and exercise the right to freedom of thought." He also stated that government believes that "reforms, including meeting citizens' aspirations for greater participation, will be the guarantor of longer-term stability in the region."