Human_rights_in_the_United_Arab_Emirates by zzzmarcus


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Human rights in the United Arab Emirates

Human rights in the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates that are mandated to protect the human rights of both victims and perpetrators of crime. Dubai police also sponsored various human rights workshops and training seminars. The government restricts freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and the media avoids directly criticizing the government and censors its own news stories. Freedom of association, and freedom of religion are also curtailed. The trafficking of children for camel jockeys continues despite government pledges to end these practices. The UAE has not signed most international human rights and labor rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the Convention against Torture.

This article is part of the series:

Politics and government of the United Arab Emirates Constitution • Constitution of the United Arab Emirates Executive • President • Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan • Prime Minister • Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Legislative • Federal National Council • Rulers Elections • 2006 election • Emirates • Foreign relations • Human rights
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Freedom of speech
Although the UAE constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, in practice these rights are very limited. By law, the Ministry of Information licenses all publications and approves the appointment of editors. Press content also is governed by law. Negative comments about Islam, the government, ruling families, or UAE citizens (by expatriates) are punishable by imprisonment, although this regulation is rarely enforced, as the press practices self-censorship. The Ministry of Information and Culture reviews imported printed material for content and imposes distribution limitations on material considered pornographic, excessively violent, derogatory to Islam, or contrary to government foreign policy.

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Human rights in the United Arab Emirates are violated by numerous fundamental practices and policies according to the U.S. Department of State annual report on human rights practices. Specifically, the UAE does not have democratically elected institutions; citizens do not have the right to change their government or political parties. In certain instances, the government of the UAE has abused people in custody, denied their citizens the right to a speedy trial and access to counsel during official investigations. The UAE’s human rights record was widely criticised during the trials of Sarah Balabagan in 1995. In 2004 the Dubai police opened designated departments in all emirate police stations

On 16 November 2007 Tecom stopped broadcast of two major Pakistani satellite news channels, uplinked from Dubai Media City,


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which was initially marketed by Tecom under the tagline "Freedom to Create." The Dubai government ordered Tecom to shut down the popular independent Pakistani news channels Geo News and ARY One World on the demand of Pakistan’s military regime led by General Pervez Musharraf. This was implemented by du Samacom disabling their SDI & ASI streams. Later policy makers in Dubai permitted these channels to air their entertainment programs, but news, current affairs and political analysis were forbidden. Although subsequently the conditions were removed, marked differences have since been observed in their coverage. This incident has had a serious impact on all organizations in the media city with Geo TV and ARY OneWorld considering relocation.[1][2][3]

Human rights in the United Arab Emirates
jobs. This is an illegal practice, but it is almost never investigated, let alone punished by the government. On termination of an employment contract, certain categories of expatriates are banned from obtaining a work permit in the country for six months. [7] • In March 2006 NPR reported that workers "typically live eight to a room, sending home a portion of their salary to their families, whom they don’t see for years at a time." Others report that their salary has been withheld to pay back loans, making them little more than indentured servants.[8] • In December 2005 the Indian consulate in Dubai submitted a report to the Government of India detailing labour problems faced by Indian expatriates in the emirate. The report highlighted delayed payment of wages, substitution of employment contracts, premature termination of services and excessive working hours as being some of the challenges faced by Indian workers in the city.[9] The consulate also reported that 109 Indian blue collar workers committed suicide in the UAE in 2006. [10] • The BBC reported in September 2004 that "local newspapers often carry stories of construction workers allegedly not being paid for months on end. They are not allowed to move jobs and if they leave the country to go home they will almost certainly lose the money they say they are owed. The names of the construction companies concerned are not published in the newspapers for fear of offending the often powerful individuals who own them.".[11] • In 2004 the United States Department of State has cited widespread instances of blue collar labour abuse in the general context of the United Arab Emirates.[12] • In September 2003 the government was criticised by Human Rights Watch for its inaction in addressing the discrimination against Asian workers in the emirate. [13] Though officially there is a labor ministry where workers can go for redress, this is more in name than in practice. Construction workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka often cannot speak either Arabic or English, and their claims can drag on in the labor courts for months by which time the unpaid laborers have little option other

Freedom of religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion in accordance with established customs, and the government generally respects this right in practice; however, there were some restrictions. The federal Constitution declares that Islam is the official religion of the country. There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice.

Migrant and labor rights

Construction workers at the Burj Dubai Migrants, particularly migrant workers, make up a majority (approximately 80%) of the resident population of the UAE, and account for 90% of its workforce.[4] They lack rights associated with citizenship and face a variety of restrictions on their rights as workers. [5] [6] It is common practice for employers in the UAE to retain employees’ passports for the duration of the employment contract to prevent expatriate employees from changing


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than acceptance of whatever settlement is given. However, the UAE government has denied any kind of labor injustices and has stated that the accusations by Human Rights Watch were misguided.[14] Towards the end of March 2006, the government announced steps to allow construction unions. UAE labour minister Ali al-Kaabi said: "Laborers will be allowed to form unions."

Human rights in the United Arab Emirates

Lack of Enforcement
UAE labor laws are written to favor the employer and generally undermine the rights of employees to facilitate and accelerate UAE’s development. The UAE Ministry of Labor Department is criticized for loosely enforcing these laws most notably, late or no wage or overtime payment for both blue collar and white collar employees [21] [22] [23]. Freezone labor laws are friendlier to employees moving between companies, unlike the first federal UAE labor law applicable outside freezones, which automatically bans employees for a period of six months up to an year, for leaving a company before finishing one year. These kinds of laws discourage free labor movement, and give employers an unfair advantage in salary negotiations.

Worker’s riots
On 21 March 2006, tensions boiled over at the construction site of the Burj Dubai as workers upset over low wages and poor working conditions rioted, damaging cars, offices, computers, and construction tools. A Dubai Interior Ministry official said the rioters caused approximately US$1 million in damage. On March 22 most workers returned to the construction site but refused to work. Workers building a new terminal at Dubai International Airport went on strike in sympathy.[15] Another strike took place in October 2007. Over 4000 strikers were sent to jail. Most of them were released some days later and were then to be expelled and deported from Dubai.[16] The strikes and negative media attention provided much needed exposure of this regional problem and the UAE government reacted the following year with imposing a “midday break” for construction companies, ensuring laborers were provided several hours to escape the grueling summer heat. Illegal overstayers were assured amnesty and even repatriated to their home countries on governmental expense. [17]

Types of discrimination
Job discrimination based on ethnic origins, is openly practiced and not discouraged, and no laws exist to prevent that. Jobs openings are advertised in major news papers like Gulf News and Khaleej Times with statements such as ‘UK/US educated’ or ‘Arabs only’ apply. Salary discrimination is also rampant with the highest paid jobs going to UAE national Emiratis (by virtue of them being UAE nationals) and the UAE Emiratisation program,[24][25][26] forcing companies by law to hire a percentage of nationals in their organizations. Second highest salaries go to people of Western origins; i.e., U.S. Americans, Western European nationals, New Zealand and Australia.[27] People from developed regions in Asia such as Japan, Singapore, Korea, do also get comparatively high salaries. People from South Asia, East Asia and Africa are offered and receive considerably less in various sectors of the UAE economy.[28]

Types of UAE Labor Laws
UAE has four main types of Labor laws: • Federal Labor Law – Applies to all the seven Emirates and supersedes free zone laws in certain areas [18]. • JAFZA Labor Law – Applies to the Dubai Jebel Ali Free Zone. • TECOM Labor Law – Applies to all Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone properties: Internet City, Media City, Studio City and International Media Production Zone [19]. • DIFC Labor Law – Applies to all companies in the Dubai International Financial Center free zone [20].

The UAE has taken significant measures to alleviate the often difficult lives of migrant workers from the developing world who opt to seek labor abroad. Important steps taken include providing monthly electronic payments for workers, requiring safety and health standards for housing to limit unreasonable overcrowding, supplying a standard contract for domestic workers[29] as well as


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signing bilateral agreements with countries where majority of foreign labor originates. (Reference: UAE-US Relations) As of April 2007, the UAE also established contract standards for domestic workers which regulate working conditions, salary, vacation, flight arrangements and medical care. These standards are to be verified and enforced by governmental agencies when providing new visas ensuring compliance on a case by case basis. To ensure the country was addressing all major and relevant concerns in regards to labor issues, the UAE held a forum with Asian labor-exporting countries in January of 2008. Part of a larger effort called the Colombo Process, the “Abu Dhabi Dialogue” was the first time a meeting was hosted by a destination for the foreign laborers, and included participants from other GCC states as well as a Human Rights Watch observer.[30] Countries part of the Colombo Process included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.[31]

Human rights in the United Arab Emirates
the UAE has worked with law enforcement officials to build capacity and awareness through holding training workshops and implementing monitoring systems to report human rights violations. The system let to registration of ten human-trafficking related cases in 2007 and half as many penalized convictions.[36] Businesses participating in exploiting women and conducting illegal activities have licenses revoked and operations are forced to close. In 2007, after just one year, the efforts led to prosecution of prostitution cases rose by 30 percent. A year later, an annual report on the UAE’s progress on human trafficking measures was issues and campaigns to raise public awareness of the issue are also planned.[37] Internationally, the UAE has also led various efforts in combating human trafficking, particularly with the main countries of origin. The state has signed numerous bilateral agreements meant to regulate the labor being sent abroad by ensuring transactions are conducted by labor ministries and not profiting recruitment agencies. In 2007, the UAE also took the unprecedented step in establishing a forum of countries, UN agencies, NGOs and governmental bodies. [38] Known as the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), the government’s endowment of $15 million has generated significant cooperation among the union’s participants towards this common goal.[39]

Human trafficking and prostitution
According to the Ansar Burney Trust (ABT), an illegal sex industry thrives in the emirates, where a large number of the workers are victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, especially in Dubai. This complements the tourism and hospitality industry, a major part of Dubai’s economy.[32] Prostitution, though illegal by law, is conspicuously present in the emirate because of an economy that is largely based on tourism and trade. There is a high demand for women from Eastern Europe. According to the World Sex Guide, a website catering to sex tourists, Russian and Ethiopian women are the most common prostitutes, while Eastern European prostitutes are part of a well organized trans-Oceanic prostitution network.[33] The Government has been trying to curb prostitution. In March 2007, it was reported that the UAE has deported over 4,300 sex workers mainly from Dubai.[34] [35] Although a modern country, the UAE remains morally conservative with traditional values and has adopted significant measures to combat this regional problem. The government of

Trafficking of children
A 2004 HBO documentary accuses the UAE of illegally using child jockeys in camel racing, where they are subjected also to physical and sexual abuse. Anti-Slavery International has documented similar allegations.[40] The practice is officially banned in the UAE since the year 2002. The UAE was the first to ban the use of children under 15 as jockeys in the popular local sport of camel-racing when Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs announced the ban on July 29, 2002.[41] Announcing the ban, Sheikh Hamdan made it very clear that "no-one would be permitted to ride camels in camel-races unless they had a minimum weight of 45 kg, and are not less than 15 years old, as stated in their


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passports." He said a medical committee would examine each candidate to be a jockey to check that the age stated in their passport was correct and that the candidate was medically fit. Sheikh Hamdan said all owners of camel racing stables would be responsible for returning children under 15 to their home countries. He also announced the introduction of a series of penalties for those breaking the new rules. For a first offense, a fine of 20,000 AED was to be imposed. For a second offense, the offender would be banned from participating in camel races for a period of a year, while for third and subsequent offense, terms of imprisonment would be imposed.[42] The Ansar Burney Trust[43], which was featured heavily in the HBO documentary, announced that in 2005 the government of the UAE began actively enforcing a ban on child camel jockeys, and that the issue "may finally be resolved".[44] An action filed in the United States in September 2006 accuses Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, of abducting, trafficking and enslaving thousands of young children for camel races. The children were said to be from Bangladesh, Sudan and southern Asia.[45]

Human rights in the United Arab Emirates
plank. The latter was smuggled out of the country by Nabulsi, who is suing the Sheikh in federal court in Houston, alleging he also was tortured by UAE police when he refused to turn over the videos to the Sheikh following a falling out between them. "They were my security, really, to make my case that this man is capable of doing what I say he can do," said Nabulsi in an interview to be broadcast on the ABC News program Nightline. Nabulsi stated that the video tapes were recorded by his brother, on orders from the Sheikh who liked to watch the torture sessions later in his royal palace.[47] In April 2009, an abridged version of the tape was posted by ABC News.[48] [49] In the video, taken at some time in 2005[47], shows Sheikh Issa beating another man, an Afghan grain merchant called Mohammed Shah Poor, with a wooden plank with protruding nails, firing an automatic weapon into the sand around him and forcing a cattle prod into his anus before turning it on[47]. Prior to the abuse, the video allegedly shows a man in a UAE police uniform tying the victim’s arms and legs; at a later point, Issa urges the cameraman to move in closer with the words, "Get closer. Get closer. Get closer. Let his suffering show." [47] The victim also appeared to have been run over by a Mercedes SUV, have lighter fluid poured on his genitals and set alight[47], and had salt poured on his wounds.[50][47] Lawyers stated the abuse began because the Sheikh felt he had been overcharged in a grain deal. "Ultimately this video, or certainly large portions of it, will be played in court," said Anthony G Buzbee, who represents Nabulsi in his lawsuit.[51] The lawsuit, filed pursuant to the Torture Victims Protection Act, also lists Sheikhs Nasser (since deceased), and Saif, as well as the Royal Family of bin Zayed Nahyan Partnership as defendants.[52] In a statement to ABC News, the UAE Ministry of the Interior said it had reviewed the tape and acknowledged the involvement of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, brother of the country’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed; the Minister of the Interior is also a sibling of Sheikh Issa..[49] The Ministry said, "The incidents depicted in the video tapes were not part of a pattern of behavior," the Interior Ministry’s statement declared. The government statement said its review found "all rules, policies and procedures were

Victim Support
Special funds to provide support for victims have been created such as Dubai’s Foundation for the Protection of Women and Children, Abu Dhabi’s Social Support Center, the Abu Dhabi Shelter for Victims of Human Trafficking and the UAE Red Crescent Authority. Services offered include counseling, schooling, recreational facilities, psychological support and shelter. Mainly women and children receive assistance and in certain cases are even repatriated to their home countries.[46]

Sheikh Issa is the subject of a lawsuit brought by businessman Bassam Nabulsi of Houston, Texas, a former long-term adviser to the Al Nahyan. Bassam Nabulsi alleges that he safeguarded the Sheikh Issa Bin Zayed Al Nayhan most important documents, including financial records, investment documents and videotapes which showed the Sheikh torturing a man with a cattle prod and a spiked


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followed correctly by the Police Department."[49] Responding to the government statement, Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch stated "If this is their complete reply, then sadly it’s a scam and it’s a sham. [...] It is the state that is torturing them, if the government does not investigate and prosecute these officers, and those commanding those officers." In response to the video’s emergence, US congressman Jim McGovern called for a freeze on government aid to the UAE, and requested that Issa be refused US visas; in a letter to the secretary of state of the United States, Hillary Clinton, he said: "I cannot describe the horror and revulsion I felt when witnessing what is on this video ... I could not watch it without constantly flinching."[47] Nabulsi has also alleged that he brought the existence of the torture tape, along with the involvement and collusion of UAE police, to the attention of a US official assigned to train UAE police, with little effect.[47] McGovern has also called for an investigation into these allegations, in order to discover when US officials knew about the tape, if they took any action and, in the event that they didn’t, why not. "It shocks the conscience," he said.[47] The controversy over the torture tape has delayed recertification of a US-UAE nuclear power cooperation agreement.[53] But the tape might just be the first piece of evidence in a wider scandal. The Guardian reported on Sunday that the lawyer for Nabulsi, Sheik Issa’s former partner, claims to have "more than two hours of video footage showing Sheikh Issa’s involvement in the torture of more than 25 people." According to the newspaper, police are believed to be seen participating in the attacks and some of the victims are thought to be Sudanese immigrants. Video of what appears to be al-Nahayan engaging in torture can be seen in the ABC News report and at, from which the photos in this post are taken. The site’s author says the site was banned in the UAE and writes that that "the Royal Family attempted to sweep the torture under the rug and ignore it."

Human rights in the United Arab Emirates
• Freedom of religion in the United Arab Emirates • Communications in the United Arab Emirates • Human rights in the Middle East

[1] Gulf News - Pakistani TV channels may move out of Dubai Media City [2] Gulf News - Geo TV also plans to move out of Dubai [3] - Geo TV hints at options outside of Dubai [4] Essential Background: Overview of human rights issues in United Arab Emirates (UAE) (Human Rights Watch, 31-12-2005) [5] Human Rights Watch - Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates [6] Human Rights Watch - Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates - PDF [7] Khaleej Times - Workers Forced to ‘Bribe’ Sponsors to Get NoCs [8] "Dubai Economic Boom Comes at a Price for Workers", by Ivan Watson, NPR, March 8, 2006 [9] "Indian government gets report on problems of Indians in UAE",, December 23, 2005 [10] "Blood, Sweat and Tears". Al Jazeera English. 2007-08-15. Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. 5WDPv7m5G. Retrieved on 2008-03-10. [11] "Workers’ safety queried in Dubai", by Julia Wheeler, BBC News, September 27, 2004 [12] "2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - United Arab Emirates". U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 2005-02-28. Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. Retrieved on 2008-03-10. [13] Dubai: Migrant Workers at Risk (Human Rights Watch, 19-9-2003) [14] UAE to allow construction unions BBC News, March 30, 2006, retrieved April 24, 2006

See also
• Human rights in Dubai • LGBT rights in United Arab Emirates • List of human rights articles by country


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Human rights in the United Arab Emirates

[15] "Workers Riot at Site of Dubai [37] UAE Ministry of Labour: "The Protection Skyscraper", by Jim Krane, of the Rights of Workers in the United, March 22, 2006 Arab Emirates Annual Report 2007 [16] "Striking Workers Released From UAE Jail", by Barbara Surk, The Associated The_Protection_of_the_Rights_of_Workers_in_the_UA Press, October 31, 2007 [38] UAE-US Relation: Factsheet on [17] TimesOnline, "Growth brings slow "Initiatives to Combat Human progress on human rights," April 15, Trafficking," Accessed February 9, 2009: 2008; tol/business/law/article3752832.ece [39] UAE-US Interact, "Mohammed bin [18] UAE Federal Labor Law Zayed’s contribution to anti human [19] TECOM - Labor Law trafficking lauded" February 15, 2009: [20] DIFC - Laws & Regulations [21] Human Rights Watch - VI. UAE Labor Mohammed_bin_Zayeds_contribution_to_anti_human Law 28647.htm [22] Dubai Labor – Unofficial Expat Resource [40] Anti-Slavery - photo gallery - Child camel [23] Gulf News - 1,600 workers march from jockeys in the UAE Ajman to Sharjah over unpaid wages [41] UAE enforces stringent steps to [24] eradicate child jockeys, Khaleej Times, [25] Gulf News - New emiratisation drive 24 May 2005 [26] Gulf News - Call for cautious [42] UAE enforces stringent steps to Emiratisation eradicate child jockeys, Khaleej Times, [27] - Western 24 May 2005 expatriates earn most in Dubai - data [43] Ansar Burney Trust - Child Camel [28] – Salary Survey Jockeys - Modern Day Slavery Report 2008 [44] [29] UAE Interact, "Mohammed bin Zayed’s [45] BBC NEWS | Middle East | Dubai’s ruler contribution to anti human trafficking accused of slavery lauded," February 15, 2008; [46] UAE-US Relations, "Initiatives to Combat Human Trafficking," Accessed February Mohammed_bin_Zayeds_contribution_to_anti_human_trafficking_lauded/ 9, 2009: 28647.htm page.cfm?id=63 [30] UAE-US Relations; Fact sheet on [47] ^ Day, Michael; Paul Harris (Sunday 26 Initiatives to Combat Human Rights, April 2009). "Wealthy brother of UK Accessed February 9, 2009; football chief linked to gruesome Gulf ’torture tape’" (in English). The [31] International Labour Organization, Observer. Special Action Programme to Combat world/2009/apr/26/manchester-cityForced Labour, torture-tape. Retrieved on 26/04/2009. News/lang--en/WCMS_090660/ [48] "Torture Video". ABC News. 2009. index.html [32] The Social Affairs Unit - Web Review: playerIndex?id=7407186. Retrieved on Dubai, Dubai - The Scandal and The Vice 2009-02-24. [33] Stoenescu, Dan. "Globalising Prostitution [49] ^ "ABC News Exclusive: Torture Tape in the Middle East". American Center Implicates UAE Royal Sheikh". ABC For International Policy Studies. News. April 22, 2009. BookIV22.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. Story?id=7402099&page=1. Retrieved [34] UAE deports 4,300 women 7days 2007 on 2009-02-24. [35] FRONTLINE/World - Rough Cut - Dubai: [50] Lawsuit: Houston businessman, others Night Secrets - The oldest profession in tortured by Arab sheik the newest playground [51] Torture lawsuit embarrasses UAE [36] UAE-US Relations; Factsheet on [52] "Initiatives to Combat Human 4:06-cv-02683-42-SDTX.pdf Trafficking" Accessed February 9, 2009:


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[53] "Torture tape delays U.S.-UAE nuclear deal, say U.S. officials", by Elise Labott, CNN, April 29, 2009 • This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

Human rights in the United Arab Emirates
• Human Rights Watch reports on the United Arab Emirates • Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery • Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children • Child Prostitution in the UAE • UAE Prison • Sinister Paradise: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai? • Censorship in UAE - IFEX

External links
• Ansar Burney Trust • Situation of Labourers

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