x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Organisations are trying to taint UAE's image, says Minister of State

Dr Anwar Gargash tells the FNC the country is under attack by certain parties criticising the UAE's human rights record.

Dr Anwar Gargash said the report on which a  European Parliament resolution was based was neither accurate nor credible.
Dr Anwar Gargash said the report on which a European Parliament resolution was based was neither accurate nor credible.

ABU DHABI // The UAE has become a target for organisations that wish to taint its image, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs told the FNC.

Answering questions about the European Parliament’s recent resolution criticising the UAE’s human rights record, Dr Anwar Gargash said the country was under attack from certain parties and the next two years would be crucial.

“Today there is targeted movement against the UAE,” he said.

Dr Gargash, also Minister of State for FNC Affairs, said the report on which the resolution was based was neither accurate nor credible.

“What the country has done to protect human rights over the last 40 years was pioneering for its nationals, and in living standards for expatriates,” he said.

“The country’s laws prove that human rights are respected and it does not trespass on human rights.”

The resolution took the UAE to task over civil liberties, conditions for migrant workers, status of women, the death penalty, human trafficking, press freedom and gender equality.

“The points were general and did not reflect reality,” said Dr Gargash. “There is a lot of doubt over credibility of the report.”

On topics such as the detention of scores of people allegedly linked to the Islamist group Al Islah and the closure of the Abu Dhabi office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a pro-democracy think tank, he said the resolution was based on reports from media and small organisations with their own agendas.

When asked by Dr Abdulrahim Al Shahin (RAK) what steps had been taken after the resolution, Dr Gargash said the ministry had made several diplomatic responses.

They included an official response to the EU Parliament detailing the steps the UAE had taken to combat human trafficking, which he said the resolution had ignored.

The UAE was not the only country with the death penalty and there were adequate safeguards, Dr Gargash said, explaining it could not be carried out until a committee of judges accepted it.

Dr Gargash said the people who had been detained posed a threat to national security and all were going through the courts. The Emirates Human Rights Association had met them and found they were in good cells with air conditioning.

“The country has put their case forward to the court and the result will be just and transparent,” he said.

The minister noted the resolution was the EU Parliament’s first criticism of the UAE in the three decades since the body was established.

“The UAE respects all human rights,” Mr Gargash said. “The constitution speaks of freedom of expression. From our point of view these claims are baseless. There are 1,400 media companies here and in the free zones.”

Since the resolution last month, he and others from the ministry had met ambassadors from EU countries to discuss it. All expressed surprise that it had passed, Dr Gargash said.

He said the ministry was pleased when the UAE was last week voted on to the UN Human Rights Council.

“This shows we have a lot of friends worldwide and respect for the UAE’s human rights policies,” Dr Gargash said.

Dr Al Shahin proposed a permanent FNC committee on human rights. The Speaker, Mohammed Al Murr, said that would be discussed.

osalem@thenational.ae