Geneva, 4th July 2018
On the 4th of July, 2018, on the occasion of the 38th session of the Human Rights Council, COJEP International, International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR), Alkarama Foundation and the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE) held a side-event at the Palais des Nations. The purpose of the event was to discuss the adoption of the final report of the UPR by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the outcome of the 3rd UPR.
The event was moderated by Ines Osman, Legal Coordinator at the Alkarama Foundation who introduced the theme of the panel discussion by speaking about how in its final report, the UAE accepted 132 recommendations and took note of 98 recommendations.
Safwa Aïssa, the Executive Director of ICJHR, spoke about the UAE’s lack of political will to adopt key UPR recommendations. She also spoke about the issues highlighted by the ICJHR in the pre-session to the UPR including the situation of human rights defenders and the use of torture by UAE authorities. She considers the government’s position is contradictory. It accepted the general recommendations while noting only the special and practical recommendations, which raises questions about the seriousness of the state in curbing human rights violations in the country, especially with the frequency of violations after January 2018 review session including Ahmed Mansoor’s recent sentencing to 10 years imprisonment and the use of torture against women in UAE prisons such as the case of Amina Alabdouli and Maryam al-Balushi.
Drewery Dyke from the Rights Realisation Centre also expressed dismay at the UAE’s rejection of important UPR recommendations, asserting that ‘taking note’ of recommendations is not enough. He spoke about the lack of an accountability mechanism in the UAE and called upon the country to accede to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and allow at least one Special Rapporteur to visit the country.
Julia Legner, Regional Officer for the Gulf at Alkarama Foundation, echoed Drewery Dyke’s thoughts with regard to the UAE ‘taking note’ of key recommendations. She also highlighted how there is an absence of an open civil society in the UAE and that there are still 8 pending requests by the UN Special Rapporteurs, issued to allow them to visit the UAE. She stressed the urgency with which the UAE must accede to international human rights standards such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Rome Statute.
Rodney Dixon, barrister-at-law at Temple Garden Chambers, talked about how in the absence of domestic accountability mechanisms in the UAE as well as the country’s worrying human rights record, other states which highly regard human rights must prosecute relevant violations. He also highlighted how it is unethical to use confessions made while being subject to torture as a method to prosecute individuals.
Joe Odell, Campaigns Manager at ICFUAE, spoke about the issues raised by the ICFUAE during the UPR pre-session, most importantly the UAE’s use of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention. He also expressed his dismay at the fact that the country failed to accept recommendations relating to these issues. Joe Odell also lamented the recent hearing of Ahmed Mansoor as a grave event for human rights in the UAE.