The UAE has not taken steps to address torture, migrant rights, and restrictions on free expression: ADHRB at HRC39

On Monday 24 September, at the 39th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) delivered an oral intervention during the Item 6 General Debate. The intervention raised concerns about the United Arab Emirates’ continued violations of human rights and their refusal to implement their 2nd cycle Universal Periodic review recommendations. In particular, the intervention called attention to cases of free expression, migrant rights, and torture. Continue reading for the text of the intervention or click here for a PDF of the intervention.

Mr. President,

ADHRB raises concerns about the United Arab Emirates’ continued violations of human rights and refusal to implement its 2nd Cycle Universal Periodic Review recommendations, in particular concerning freedom of expression, migrant rights, and torture.

The UAE continues to sentence activists to prison in unfair trials on free expression-related charges. Among those in prison because of their expression are lawyers Mohammed al-Roken and Mohammed al-Mansoori, and economist Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith. Tayseer al-Najjar, a Jordanian journalist and human rights defenders Ahmed Mansoor and blogger Osama al-Najjar are also in prison.

The UAE has also not taken adequate steps to protect the rights of migrant workers. Workers in the Emirates are still beholden to the kafala system of labor sponsorship. Under the kafala system, employers have an inordinate amount of power over laborers. Employers often use their leverage to pay poor wages, restrict workers’ movement, and to force them to work in poor conditions.

Torture in detention centers remains widespread, with inmates recounting beatings; prolonged solitary confinement; deprivation of sleep, prayer, and toilet facilities; and electric shocks. Prisoners like Mariam al-Balushi, Amina Abdullahi, and Alia Abdulnoor have all reported torture and threats of rape inside Abu Dhabi’s al Wathba Prison. Recently reports emerged about systematic, rampant sexual torture in Yemeni prisons controlled by the Emirati forces.

We call on the UAE to demonstrate serious commitment to implementing its UPR recommendations by releasing all political prisoners, lifting restrictions on free expression, abolishing the kafala system, and ending torture.

Thank you