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Mon 26 May 2014 11:09 AM

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Clinton welcomes probe into Abu Dhabi campus worker allegations

Former US president said NYU would “take appropriate, remedial action to deal with it properly”

Clinton welcomes probe into Abu Dhabi campus worker allegations
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton. (Getty Images)

Former US president has welcomed the launch of an investigation by New York University (NYU) into allegations workers building its new campus on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island were being mistreated.

US media reports claimed last week labourers working on NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus were arrested and mistreated for striking and some workers were living in substandard accommodation and the allegations were addressed by Clinton during his keynote speech at the university’s first Abu Dhabi graduation ceremony on Sunday.

“We all know that the treatment of migrant labour all across the world has not been free of difficulty, not just here or in the region but everywhere in the world, for a long time. We all know there has been widespread acceptance of unequal treatment of people whose identity is considered less worthy of attention than others, in whatever locality that is,” Clinton was quoted as saying during his speech by The National newspaper.

Responding to the media reports, NYU authorities said they would address the allegations and Clinton praised their swift response to the issue.

“We don’t live in a perfect world and we can do better... None of us can afford to live in denial. I am betting NYU will stand good on its word. The best thing to do when someone raises something is not to deny it but to embrace it.

“There is no question that NYU and its partners have achieved a remarkable safety record in the building of this campus and one that surpasses similar projects in Europe and elsewhere. There is no question that NYU has followed its policies in respect of the people it directly hired. It established a monitor to look over the practices of those contractors,” he added.

Clinton also said that NYU would “take appropriate, remedial action to deal with it properly” if the allegations proved to be accurate.

The former president’s stance on the issue comes as it was revealed that last week a UAE newspaper publisher refused to print an edition of the International New York Times because it contained an article about the issue and which was deemed “too sensitive for local printing”.