MoFA statement on 2013 US State Department report on human rights in the UAE

ABU DHABI: The U.A.E. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement on the 2013 U.S. State Department report on human rights in the U.A.E. released on 27th February 2014. The statement text is as follows: The United Arab Emirates takes note of the U.S. State Department’s 2013 Report on Human Rights in the U.A.E.. The U.A.E. has written to the State Department suggesting that it revises its report based on readily available public source information including U.S. media outlets and social media services as well as information recently published by the United States Department of the Treasury.

The 2013 report notes that it has “no update on Ahmed Al Dakki” (AKA Hassan Al Diqqi) or the “Al Ummah Party”. This is both surprising and regrettable given that a senior representative to the Ummah Organisation, and founder and current President of the Al Karama organization, Abd al-Rahman Bin ‘Umayr al-Nu’aymi, was designated in December 2013 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as an Al Qaida Terror Financier. Moreover, Hassan al-Diqqi’s extremist credentials are long established, as noted by the Washington Post, with his support for jihad publicly recorded as far back as 2002, and most recently in 2013 as evidenced readily by social media.

The U.A.E. observes that whilst Al Karama’s lobbying on behalf of Hassan Al Diqqi may go some way to explaining why he has featured both in the 2012 and 2013 State Department Human Rights reports as a Human Rights activist, it does not explain why there is no update on the extensive violent jihadist activities and support for such activities in Syria and other territories of both Hassan Al Diqqi and the Ummah Conference.

Consistent with recent U.S. steps to deny Al Karama special consultative status at the United Nations, the U.A.E. would suggest it is prudent for the State Department to review its Middle East human rights reporting, and identify causes that originated with the al Qaida-led Alkarama Foundation – either directly or through is working relationships with prominent international human rights organizations.

The Ummah oversight would seem to suggest that a recalibration of the reports findings is necessary and that it therefore provides an unbalanced picture of the human rights situation in the U.A.E..

The facts are that the U.A.E. is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and has demonstrated its openness to engaging in constructive dialogue on human rights issues, both in multilateral fora and bilaterally with partners such as the European Union. Last year, the U.A.E. underwent its second Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council. We are in the process of following-up the more than one hundred recommendations that we accepted. As a Member of the Human Rights Council, the U.A.E. was particularly pleased to host a visit by the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons last April, who recognized the progress achieved by the U.A.E.’s campaign against human trafficking. Earlier this year, we welcomed the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and we look forward to her report.

Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential part of our principles. While some countries have had centuries to build societies based on human rights, we are proud of the progress we have made in the 42 years since our country was founded. We have created a tolerant, multicultural society in which people of many different nationalities worship freely in churches, temples and mosques. All citizens and residents have access to education and healthcare.

The empowerment of women is a major focus of our efforts in building a modern and progressive society. Women participate meaningfully in every facet of civic and political life in the U.A.E., and work in the judiciary, prosecution, police, diplomatic and consular corps, as well as business and the financial sector. According to UNDP, the U.A.E. ranks highest in the Arab world on gender equality, and 40th internationally.

The U.A.E.’s status as an attractive place of work for people from around the world has led it to become a major recipient of foreign labour, which benefits both the foreign workers and the U.A.E.. The U.A.E. has ratified nine major ILO conventions related to the rights of workers, and has adopted numerous laws and regulations to protect workers’ rights, including in the areas of recruitment, pay and conditions of work, housing, and health. The U.A.E. is continuously working to strengthen the enforcement of labour protections.

The U.A.E. is actively engaged in the global campaign against trafficking in persons. We have established shelters to provide safe refuge, health and psychological care as well as social support to women, men and children who are victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The U.A.E., through the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, will continue to implement our national strategy based on the “Five Ps” of prevention, prosecution, punishment, protection and promotion of international co-operation, and to report annually on progress.

We take pride in our achievements but we are never satisfied with the status quo. The U.A.E. will continue to strive to improve respect for human rights regardless of the criticism because human rights are part of the values that motivate us.