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Minister wants human rights push

The Government urged the Federal National Council yesterday to promote the nation's human rights record in its foreign travels.

ABU DHABI // The Government urged the Federal National Council yesterday to promote the nation's human rights record in its foreign travels. "The human rights file is very complicated and it's necessary that you adopt the subject like you did with the islands," Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and FNC Affairs, told the council members. He was referring to the FNC's vigorous defence of the country's claim to three islands - Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs - that were occupied by Iran in 1971.

"Your defence enriches the UAE's record," he said. "Our human rights record is bright and easy to defend, but our defence should be realistic, meaning that there are problems here and there and they can be solved." Dr Gargash was answering a question raised by Ahmad Shabib al Dhahiri, a member from Abu Dhabi, about the Emirates' human rights report submitted to the UN in November. Dr Gargash was at the head of a UAE delegation that appeared before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

After the UN had reviewed the Emirates' record on human rights, it issued a list of 74 recommendations relating to labour rights; the application of Sharia law, including inheritance and capital punishment; and freedom of speech and expression. The UAE offered nine "voluntary pledges" that include joining some international agreements on human rights. "We expressed reservations over recommendations related to our religion or to labour unions due to our understanding of our own topography," Dr Gargash said.

He said 36 recommendations had been accepted, 17 were still being considered by the relevant authorities and 21 had been declined. mhabboush@thenational.ae

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