THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES IN THE CONTEXT OF: HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Author: Disha Negi, IV Year of B.A.,LL.B from Delhi Metropolitan Education.
There are some basic rights provided to every individual during different circumstances, including political rights and civil liberties known as human rights. In this article, we will discuss the different human rights violations that have been occurred in UAE throughout the years. There is a lot of restriction when it comes to freedom of speech in the UAE. The article will study the cases of famous human rights activists who faced torture and physical abuse whenever they try to raise their voices against the government. In UAE, many migrant workers and laborers are treated discriminately and unfairly just to get benefits out of their work. The human rights of women were also exploited because of the domestic violence and the problem of human trafficking faced by them. Through this article, you will get to know the forced disappearance and torture that is faced by the people living in UAE.
The United Arab Emirates is a country which is located on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula. The UAE consists of seven small emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are two of those. Human rights violation has always been a hot topic in the United Arab Emirates. Various reports came forward which depicted how the UAE violated the basic rights of the people. The history of UAE in context to the human rights violation had been filled with endless torture, criminalization of freedom of speech and expression, exploiting the migrant workers, sexual and physical abuse against the women.
As indicated by Amnesty International, an International Human Rights Organisation, academics or human rights activists who try to raise their voice against the government or criticize the government through social media or by any other means become the target of the UAE Government. They were detained and tortured in the prisons. The concept of forced disappearance, which is the secret imprisonment, disappearance, or kidnapping of a person by the government or a political organization is very common in the UAE. The victim of forced disappearance was detained and taken to secret locations where they were tortured and physically abuse examinations.
The United Nations-State Council, which is a primary organ of the United Nations, had elected UAE under the International human rights treaties. But most of the treaties i.e., the Convention on the protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers, the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, etc were not signed by the UAE.
Let us study the different types of human rights violations that occurred in the UAE through the years.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
When it comes to freedom of speech, there are a lot of restrictions and limitations in UAE. It is off-limit to censure public authority, government workers, police, and the illustrious family in any capacity. Any endeavor to shape a public association and dissent against any issue will be met with severe repercussions. Reprieve International distributed a report on infringement of the right to the opportunity to speak in the ‘UAE’.
In 2017, Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith, a human rights activist and defender was imprisoned for 10 years on the ground of making some critical comments against the UAE government on Twitter about their rules and policies. There was no fair trial for his case, and he was taken to some unknown location where he was tortured and physically abused for months just because of the comment that he posted online.
Another report that came forward which shows the brutal practice of freedom of speech and expression in the UAE is the case of Tayseer Najjar. Tayseer Najjar belongs to the country Jordan, and he was a journalist. Later he came to Abu Dhabi to pursue his journalism work, but there he got arrested. The reason for his arrest was that in the year 2014 there was an Israeli military operation that took place in Gaza and Tayseer Najjar posted, a comment criticizing the Gulf countries during this operation. He was imprisoned for 3 years and was not allowed to make any contact with his wife and children who were in Jordan. Apart from this no legal aid was provided to him. Also, a fine of 5,00,000 Dhiram was imposed on him.
Although capital punishment is legitimate in the United Arab Emirates, it is infrequently applied because the law requires an assortment of three judges to endorse capital punishment, which can be driven in case the casualty's family pardons the convict or agree to get monetary payment from the accused family. If the family gets monetary pay, the court can hold the convict for at least three years and a limit of seven years.
TORTURE FOLLOWED BY ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE
UAE considered torture as their special weapon to bring out an involuntary confession. More than 100 Emirati change activists have been confined and tormented. Beginning around 2011, the UAE government has authorized upheld forced disappearances. Numerous unfamiliar nationals and Emirati nationals have been captured and seized by the express nation, and then the United Arab Emirates government very cleverly stated to the public that they have not captured any of them. They do this to hide their whereabouts, which puts these individuals outside the insurance of the law. As per Human Rights Watch, reports of vanishings and torment in the United Arab Emirates are very disturbing.
In 2012, Dubai police beat and killed three Britons in the wake of being captured for drug offenses. Then in 2013 the UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had a visit to the United Kingdom, and taking advantage of that visit British Prime Minister, David Cameron expressed his concern on the 2012 case and demanded the UAE President to release the captured Britons. The three people who exculpated, delivered in the year 2013 in July.
Another case that has shown forcibly disappearance by the UAE Authorities is a case of Emirati Sisters namely Asma, Al Yazzyah, and Mariam. These sisters were facing a hard time as their brother was arrested by the authority, so to wake the government regarding the same, they posted a criticizing comment. After this comment, they got arrested without any charge and were kept in jail for 3 months. This clearly shows the inhumane treatment in UAE.
In November 2017, security powers captured two writers in Abu Dhabi who were covering the launch of the Louver Museum in Abu Dhabi for Swiss administrators. The columnists were kept for over 50 hours without speaking with the rest of the world. The writers were questioned for as long as nine hours all at once and blindfolded while being shipped between various areas. Cameras, PCs, hard drives, and different materials were likewise seized.
A 42-year-old man in 2019, the emirate captured by ‘UAE’ experts in 2015 drew media consideration for the abuse he endured while kept in the UAE. He has been in jail for quite a long time and has been exposed to outrageous torment and detachment without admittance to sufficient ventilation, sleeping pads, covers, food, or medication. The worst part of this case was that the man was suffering from a deadly disease i.e., cancer and still he was not provided with any medical treatment. The UAE Government clarified on their behalf that the man did not want any treatment but it is very evident that it was not true.
Ahmed Mansoor, the famous UAE Human Rights Activist who had been arrested by the UAE Government for posting false information on social media. He was tortured badly and his health condition got deteriorated. He pens down all the mistreatment and torture he faced during his arrest in July 2021, in a letter that was later published by a London Based News Agency. He was arrested again for the same on 7 January 2022. He is physically assaulted and treated brutally by the UAE Government.
VIOLENCE FACED BY WOMEN
Domestic Violence was never taken seriously by the UAE Government as they don’t have sufficient action against this type of Violence. When it comes to divorce, men can give divorce to their wife, whereas for a woman they have to first obtain a court order then only they can give divorce to their husband. There were such instances as reported by the Human Rights Watch that whenever any women complain regarding Domestic Violence, then the police authority never takes their case seriously.
Sexual assault, abuse, and sexual harassment
Justice is not provided easily to the women who are facing sexual harassment and they have to face various obstacles if they report any instance of Sexual Assault happening with them. Explaining it through a case where a woman name Alicia Gali a Brisbane woman, who came to UAE for her work purpose, was assaulted by her three co-workers. She was drugged and harassed by them. When she reported this to the UAE police, instead of helping her they charged her for Adultery and arrested her for 8 months.
Women Migrant workers
UAE employs about 146,000 female migrant workers. This data is according to the International Labour Organization. International Governmental Organization i.e., the Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report in 2014 where they talked to the women migrants’ workers and asked them about the problems they faced. The women complained about the physical and sexual abuse they face.
Amnesty International is one of their reports stated that the women migrant workers who are from Asia and Africa and are working in UAE are not provided protection under the labor laws and are subjected to physical and sexual abuse.
When it comes to abortion strict laws have been prevailed by the UAE Government. Women are not allowed to go through the process of Abortion as it is illegal according to Article 340 of the Penal Code. The punishment provided for this offense is imprisonment for 1one year along with a fine of up to Dh10,000. In any case, if any unmarried women visit the hospital for her miscarriage treatment, then she will be held accused of the attempt of abortion.
RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS AND LABOR
The migrant workers in UAE had been subjected to discrimination and they were treated unfairly to get benefits from their work. In UAE, there is a famous system under which the migrant workers work, which is known as the Kafala system. But the migrant workers and the domestic laborers opposed this system because it was considered a major threat for them. Under this system, once a migrant worker started working under an employer, then his legal status will be bound to that employer only. So, if the worker is facing any kind of exploitation from his employer, he still has to work under him. It doesn’t matter if his human rights are violated or not, because neither he can change his employer nor he can file a lawsuit against him.
On 16 January 2020, a report came forward that disclose the scam performed by the exploitive employers of UAE. They were hiring the Indian migrant workers on Tourist Visa because a visit visa is considered a cheaper option than the work permits. During employment, the migrant workers, face, exploitation, and social and sexual abuse. The migrant workers fear reporting any of this exploitation to the UAE authorities or police authorities because if they do so, then their illegal status will also come forward.
As we all know human trafficking means an unlawful act of transporting people mainly women and children to get benefits from their work or service type in the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation. In the UAE human trafficking done for sexual exploitation has been considered a major issue. Although the UAE Government does not allow any type of human trafficking and considered it an offense, it is still considered a serious challenge to the government.
Many reports came forward which have stated the problems faced by the women who are coming from different countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Philippines to work under private sectors, but instead of making them work under the private sectors, they were forced to do the labor jobs. Low wages were given to them and they were subjected to physical and verbal abuse. Many reports came forward which stated that if any migrant workers try to file a complaint against the exploitation done by the employer, then the Police put pressure on them, and instead of taking any legal actions for them, they were expelled from the countries on the ground of having illegal status. Victims are not provided with any healthcare or medical facilities.
PHYSICAL ABUSE FACED BY PRISONS
On 19 July 2012, UAE has signed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or degrading Treatment or Punishment. But do they follow this convention? According to a report, the answer lies in the fact that about 75% of the prisoners had stated that they have been physically abused after their arrest.
In an interview, Osama Al Najjar, the human rights defender, and political activist stated that “he was punched and beaten repeatedly all over his face and body and threatened with electric shocks” at the time of his imprisonment. By this, we can, state that torturing their
prisoners have been a serious issue in UAE, and especially the prisoners who had raised their voice against the government get to suffer a lot.
If you have proof of your citizenship, then you can enjoy the endless and unlimited rights that have been provided to you by your state, but in case you don’t have the proof then you can face some serious problems. This is a common practice in UAE. About 20,000 to about 1 lakh people who are not recognized as a citizen of the UAE has been deprived of their basic standard of living. The rights of having proper healthcare, higher education, and jobs are not provided as equally as it has been provided to the Emirati citizens.
Chinese Uyghurs who moved to the UAE following denials of basic liberties by the Beijing government have been kept, tormented, and extradited from Abu Dhabi. As the prisoners, China has asked three significant Arab nations, including the United Arab Emirates, to expel the Uighur travelers, But the UAE did not respond to the request of China.
Throughout the articles, we studied the different types of human rights violations that have been performed by the UAE over the years. Criminalization of freedom of speech and expression, sexual and physical abuse against the women. The exploitation of the migrant workers by the employers. All of this situation has shown us the dark side of UAE politics. All these human rights violations have restrained the freedom of the victim and made their situation more vulnerable. Protecting the freedom and rights of all should be the fundamental duty of the UAE, and they must take effective steps and measures to solve the problem of Human rights violations.