x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

FNC elects chairman of new human rights council

Mr Ali Jassim was a member of the international parliament human rights group from 2007 until 2010.

ABU DHABI // The Federal National Council’s human-rights committee convened for the first time yesterday and elected the council’s longest-serving member as its chairman.

Ali Jassim (UAQ), who has been on the FNC since 1993, was one of the first to nominate himself for the committee at last Tuesday’s session of the full council.

Mr Jassim was a member of the international parliament human rights group from 2007 until 2010.

Members had lobbied for a committee to be set up after a European Parliament resolution was passed in October that criticised the UAE over migrant worker conditions, the status of women and the death penalty.

“We are in an Arabic and Islamic country, in an Islamic religion that encourages equality and justice and gives value to a human as a living person and does not differentiate between people,” said Mr Jassim.

“The UAE implements these from traditions and Islamic values. Before Arab, the country was Islamic and takes on these values, and they do not contradict.”

He said the UAE’s laws already took human rights into account and followed the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

“The UAE is known to have forgiveness,” he said. “During Eid every year, for instance, if inmates are found to be well behaved, they may be pardoned.

“Even look at the prison here, they’re much better than others around the world. They’re like a five-star hotel.”

During the meeting, he said the committee would consider the status of human rights in the country, ensure new laws took human rights into account and look at international, bilateral and regional agreements on human rights, as well as individual cases referred to it by the council.

It would also look at human- rights provisions in new laws presented to the council.

And if international bodies criticised the UAE, he said they would work closely with the foreign ministry to review them.

It would also compile reports to present internationally and to bodies such as the United Nations.

The committee would also work to spread awareness of human rights. This included giving lectures to school pupils and university students.

He said the committee’s work would be linked to politics, economy, law, and social issues.

Its next meeting will be with the council’s general secretariat, to form a detailed plan for the rest of this term and the next.

Although the council goes into recess in mid-June, committees would continue their work.

“Forming this committee is a message to the world and international organisations that the country and the council both give utmost importance to the issue of human rights,” the FNC said.