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Thu 27 Jan 2011 04:09 PM

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UAE hits back at 'sensational' human rights criticisms

Ministry of Labour condemns 'tabloid style' reporting by New York-based Human Rights Watch

UAE hits back at 'sensational' human rights criticisms
LABOUR MINISTRY: The UAE Ministry of Labour has accused a US organisation of sensational and tabloid style reporting of human rights in the emirates (Getty Images)
UAE hits back at 'sensational' human rights criticisms
(Getty Images)

The UAE Ministry of Labour has accused a US organisation of “sensational” and “tabloid style” reporting of human rights in the emirates, the WAM news agency reported.

As part of its Global Report 2011, the New York-based Human Rights Watch organisation said new laws aimed at improving conditions for migrant workers in the UAE risk having little grass-roots impact if the Arab country does not get tougher on enforcement.

Samer Muscati, researcher at HRW, told reporters at the press conference in Dubai on Wednesday that “across the country, abuses include unsafe work environment, squalid living conditions in labour camps, and the withholding of travel documents.”

“Workers also complain of non-payment of wages, despite a mandatory electronic payment system introduced in 2009 that requires companies to pay salaries directly into licensed banks to ensure timely payment without illegal deductions,” he added.

However, on Thursday the UAE Ministry of Labour (MoL) said it “takes issue with the sensational reporting by HRW on the plight of workers who were laid-off from their UAE jobs in 2010, at a time when job loss that was due to the global economic downturn was for the overwhelming part dealt with in an orderly fashion and workers continue to enjoy wage protection under an internationally acclaimed electronic Wage Protection System.”

The MoL said it is “committed to continuously improve the protection of the rights of workers in the UAE.”

It added that such “that tabloid style” reporting “does a disservice to the very cause of human rights” and “undermines the credibility” of the HRW, WAM added.

The report was also condemned by the UAE Writers Association and UAE Journalists Association.

In a joint statement issued by WAM, the two organisations “lamented the inaccuracy of information in the HRW report” and its authors were aiming to “smear the country's reputation.”

The joint statement added that “the Writers and Journalists Associations reiterated that they enjoy complete freedom in conveying the public opinion to the officials with the required objectivity and after verifying the facts.”

Paolo C 8 years ago

"The joint statement added that “the Writers and Journalists Associations reiterated that they enjoy complete freedom in conveying the public opinion to the officials with the required objectivity and after verifying the facts.”

Dear UAE journalists and those many other journalist worldwide who live of regular income. Do you really feel in your conscience that you are reporting the truth?

Ali 8 years ago

In 2010, one of my relatives working for Toyota in Pakistan moved to prominent local UAE group.

On his reaching there his travel documents were taken by the management on account of "safe keeping" and his 2 month salary is being withheld as "safe deposit" against the travel cost brone by the company to import workers.

None of these "clauses" were mentioned in his employment agreement neither were they communicated to him prior to his acceptance of the employment agreement and reaching UAE.

Roy Ferns 8 years ago

To be positive and constructive, the persons who are effected the most are the migrant works working in the UAE. But are we talking on their behalf ?

Both sides (journalists) can have a war of words, but most affected ultimately are the workers. In a world of half truths may God show who is right and who is wrong & ultimately punish those who do tell fabricated stories & lies. Which side is true we the public all know & see it in daily life.

To get the true facts the workers have to be asked, or does it give someone else the right to write an article on their behalf when they are the ultimate suffers in this story.

lord kingsley 8 years ago

WPS doesnt work, good idea and in theory could work - know plenty of firms who cant pay wages are simply fined but cant pay fines whats the point - liquidate the company - then all the staff get nothing and have no jobs

Jebel Ali Baba 8 years ago

The situation of underprivileged workers in the UAE is improving rapidly, even though there might be still cases of the abuses and disgrace described in the HRW report. And I agree, that it might look like sensational journalism pointing at these few case ignoring the improvements.

In most of the countries of origin of the workers effected the human rights situation is even worse. So these workers choose it willingly to work in the Gulf states to improve and support their families back home.

Europe and the USA were a disgrace of human rights till the late 60's and still are it in some ways. So don't throw stones sitting in the glass house...

honors 8 years ago

What is stopping your relative from resigning and heading back to Pakistan? No one is stopping him from doing so and he can always go to the police if his employer refuses to give him back his passport.

How does your relative's story relate in any way shape or form to the UAE labour laws? Your relative ended up with a bad employer, but the law is - and always has been - there to protect him, if he is willing to go back to his country.

Darcy 8 years ago

Although the UAE MoL have just revoked the 6 months ban and people are allowed to change jobs once thier contract has been completed there are - and I am battling to employ staff which have thier passport withheld and are threatened by the HR Manager of a company operating in Abu Dhabi in order to stop them from leaving .This is totally morally wrong and reflects a poor level of human rights.

Honors 8 years ago


How does this reflect on the laws of the UAE? The HR manager is allowed to send the people back to their countries and it is up to you to bring them back to the UAE on proper visas. It may be an additional cost to both you and him, but that in no way is a violation of human rights nor is it endangering the chances of employment for anyone. If you want someone, you gotta pay for them.

The employees you want to hire are not smart enough clearly. They need to go to their embassy and complain that their passports - a property of their governments - are withheld by the employer. You will see how fast the employer will return the passports to them.

jer 8 years ago

you clearly have no idea of many people have to live their lives paycheck to paycheck, whether in the UAE or in the West. To lose some months salary in waiting to go home, and having no job to return to their is an economic disaster for many people. What is needed is fairess as demanded by almost every religion, but is palpably missing in many countries of the world.

honors 8 years ago


No one here is talking about living month to month. I know office boys who actually own property in their homeland, and yet I have been working for several years and still have nothing to my name.

The article does not deal with one's wealth and riches. It discusses HRW criticism of the UAE for things that the UAE has nothing to deal with. Your employer has your passport? Thats illegal. Your employer did not pay your salary on time? That is also illegal. Your employer is making you work overtime without paying you? That is illegal.

All of these actions (and many more) have always had appropriate punishments by the Ministry and the State; the problem is that people are too afraid to go and get their rights. Sure, you will lose your job, but why would you wish to remain working for someone who treats you badly? The UAE is not responsible to securing you a job when you return home, that is the job of your own country, and does not constitute a Human Rights abuse by the UAE!