Human Rights Watch: UAE violating human rights at home, aboard
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has blasted the United Arab Emirates for violating human rights by suppressing dissent and discriminating against citizens at home while committing war crimes in Yemen.
In its World Report 2018 published on Thursday, the New York-based rights organization accused the UAE of "arbitrarily detaining or rounding up in its routine crackdowns on dissent," citing the case of Ahmed Mansoor.
The award-winning Emirati rights activist has been in detention since March 2017, facing speech-related charges that include using social media to “publish false information that harms national unity.”
“The government and the many public relations firms it pays try to paint the UAE as a modern, reform-oriented country,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.
“This rosy vision will remain fiction so long as the UAE refuses to release the activists, journalists, and critics it has unjustly jailed, like Ahmed Mansoor," she added.
Elsewhere, the HRW report highlighted persistent labor abuses and the exploitation of migrant construction workers in the Persian Gulf country.
It also said that the UAE is discriminating against its people based on their sex, gender and identity.
The rights group further touched on the UAE's complicity in torture and disappearances across Yemen.
The UAE is a key ally of Saudi Arabia in its military campaign on Yemen, which has claimed around 13,600 lives since its onset in March 2015.
Besides playing a significant part in aerial assaults and deploying troops to Yemen, Abu Dhabi has been training the pro-Saudi militants fighting on the ground against the Yemeni army and its allied forces.
The UAE has further come under scrutiny for running secret prisons in Yemen, where hundreds of inmates suffer mistreatment and torture.
In November 2017, the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), a UK-based NGO, filed a complaint against the Emirates with the International Criminal Court (ICC) over its “indiscriminate attacks against civilians” in Yemen.
The HRW said Abu Dhabi operates at least two informal detention facilities in Yemen, where prisoners face forcible disappearance and continued detention despite release orders.
Former detainees and their families have reported abuse or torture inside the UAE-run facilities, it noted.
“Whenever the US and others praise the UAE for its critical counterterrorism support in places like Yemen, they paper over a much darker reality – of disappearances, torture, and detainee abuse, and their own potential complicity in these abuses,” Whitson said.
The Saudi aggression on Yemen was launched to reinstate a former Riyadh-friendly government and to eliminate the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective administration.
The offensive has, however, achieved neither of its goals despite the spending of billions of petrodollars and the enlisting of the cooperation of Saudi Arabia’s regional and Western allies.