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Sat 28 Jul 2007 12:00 AM

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Guggenheim called on to protect rights

Human Rights Watch calls on Guggenheim to enforce labour rights during construction of Abu Dhabi branch.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Guggenheim Museum's board of trustees to publicly pledge that it will enforce international labour rights during construction and maintenance of its largest overseas branch in Abu Dhabi.

HRW got no response after it sent a private letter to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in February, highlighting its concerns about the exploitation of migrant workers in the UAE.

HRW has urged the foundation to require that its UAE partners do not withhold workers' wages or confiscate passports, document and publicly report work-related injuries and deaths, and forbid recruiters from unlawfully collecting recruitment, travel and visa fees from workers.

"Unless the Guggenheim takes action, its biggest overseas branch could become known for exhibiting labour violations," said Sarah Leah Whitson, director - Middle East, HRW.

"The Guggenheim's board of trustees should make a public commitment and take all necessary steps to prevent the exploitation of migrant labour at the museum's Abu Dhabi branch."

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is scheduled to open in 2011 and will be part of a large cultural district that will include three other museums, including a branch of the Louvre.

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