Human Rights in the United Arab Emirates
According to the Human Rights Watch, the United Arab Emirates has continued to carry out crack down on freedom of association and expression that are some of the fundamental human rights. The authorities have in the past and even to date continue to arbitrarily detain several individuals who are suspected of having links to local and International Islamist groups. In July 2014, 69 dissidents were convicted by a UAE court after a manifested unfair trial whereby there was even evidence of systematic torture at the state security apparatus.
Over the years, the United Arab Emirates have made no reforms to a system that is viewed to facilitate forced labor on immigrant workers. Besides, the working conditions for female domestic workers are way below the standards that are outlined in the convention on domestic workers that was adopted in 2012 by the International Labor Organization. In fact, the UAE has made very dismal progress towards the protection of the rights of migrant workers and women’s rights. In May 2013, after several workers went on a strike protesting poor working conditions and pay at a site in Dubai, the immigration officials responded by issuing 40 deportation orders.
IN 2012, THE United Arab Emirates introduced restrictive cybercrime decree for the arrest of journalists and conviction of amateur filmmakers of interfering with national security. One Abdulla al-Hadidi is one of the many victims who were caught in this trap. He was sentenced to ten months in prison by an Abu Dhabi court in April 2013 for posting comments on social media about a public trail that he had attended.
The labor laws of the United Arab Emirates do not cater for domestic workers with an almost exclusive focus on migrant women. The laws deny domestic workers basic protections like weekly days off, limits of hours of work among others. A unified contract that has been drafted by the UAE for domestic workers and expected to be approved in 2014 has been criticized to fall far much below the minimum requirements that are outlined in the International Labor Organization’s 2011 Domestic Workers Convention.
In July 2013, the media were awash with the report of a Norwegian woman who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in the United Arab Emirates for engaging in extra marital sex after she reportedly went to seek justice from the police after a rape incident. Domestic violence remains a pervasive problem in the region. Men are given the authority to discipline their wives and children, including the use of physical violence by the penal code.
The latest and also considered to be a clear indication of the United Arab Emirates’ disregard for human rights is the case where the authorities denied a Human Rights Watch official access to the country. On January 24th 2014, the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Director, Sarah Leah Whitson was denied entry into the UAE. Besides, the country also went ahead to cancel a Human Rights Watch conference that was scheduled to take place in the UAE.
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