By Gavin Davids
Not enough recognition given to the genuine efforts made by the UAE - Ministry.
The UAE government reacted strongly to a report released by an international rights watchdog, releasing a statement that called the report a “factually incorrect” account of the human rights developments in the country.
The statement was in response to the release of the Human Rights Watch 2010, which, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “has major drawbacks and fails to adequately record the positive steps taken by the UAE with regard to labour and human trafficking issues, not just in 2009, but also in the last few years.”
Speaking to WAM, a ministry official said that while the UAE was not averse to admitting its faults, it found it unsettling that genuine efforts and constructive results received little or no recognition in the HRW report.
The ministry official, who did not wish to be named, pointed out that the report did not acknowledge the unanimous adoption of the Working Group Report on the UAE’s Universal Periodic Review at the tenth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March.
The foreign affairs ministry also countered the HRW’s critical reference to the special UN rapporteur’s report on the UAE, saying that the report did not present a balanced view of the comments of the rapporteurs.
The ministry said that the report did not mention that the UAE government had extended official invitations to the rapporteurs to visit the country separately.
The fact that the rapportuers were allowed to hold discussions with various ministries, civil society organisations, academics and ordinary citizens, throughout the emirates, were also ignored, the ministry added.
The preliminary report of a rapporteur found that the authorities were willing to find ways and means of addressing human rights challenges faced by the people in the UAE and to ensure compliance with international human rights standards.
Other developments that were not mentioned in the HRW report included the UAE signing and ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its additional protocol; ratifying the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children (Palermo protocol).
The government also created three new human rights related institutions – the Human Rights department at the Ministry of Interior, the Dubai Community Development Authority, and a permanent taskforce of specialists, specifically prosecutors, to tackle human trafficking in Dubai. Abu Dhabi’s government also opened up a shelter for women and children, ‘Ewaa’.
None of this was mentioned in the report, the ministry said.
It said that the 'factual inaccuracies' of the report, “were aimed at sensationalising it.”
It corrected the report's claim that the worker’s strike it referenced was not over ‘low pay,’ but over ‘overtime pay’, two ‘qualitatively different issues’ that were related to the economic downturn.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed that the UAE respects the integrity of every individual residing in the county and acknowledged that more work needed to be done.
It said: “The UAE, as in many other countries, faces the many challenges related to human rights with openness and determination and realises the more work needs to be done."
It added: "However, the HRW report fails to portray and accurate and balanced picture and in turn this approach has undermined the relevance and credibility of the report.”
Why is it that the UAE authorities always point to the many things that are done rather than honestly accepting and admitting all that still needs to be done ? The fact is that though there are many laws that guarantee certain rights to workers the fact is that in practice they are not enforced and there are many loop holes for the exploitation of illiterate workers. While positive steps may have been taken there is still a long long way to go !! A free press would be the best guarantor of human rights. UAE are you ready for it ?