x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UN presents UAE with 180 human rights recommendations

The UAE has until June 23 to respond and detail the recommendations it will adopt to the UN.

DUBAI // The United Nations Human Rights Council has presented the UAE with a list of 180 recommendations as part of its Universal Periodic Review.

Some member nations of the UPR working group praised efforts made by the country since its first review in 2008, but there were calls for improvement to welfare of migrant and domestic workers.

The Minister of State for Foreign and FNC Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said last night: “We will seize the unique opportunity that the review offers us to continue our evaluation of the human rights situation in the UAE and maintain an active dialogue with UAE civil society.”

The UAE has until June 23 to respond and detail the recommendations it will adopt to the UN.

Dr Gargash, in accepting the list of recommendations, said: “The UAE is a strong supporter of the Universal Periodic Review process and believes it represents the primary legitimate forum for multilateral dialogue on a country’s human rights record.

“While very proud of what we have achieved, we are well aware that there is still room for improvement,” he added. “But I can assure you that we are on the right path and are committed to a process of continuous development.”

The Emirates is among 14 countries being reviewed in the 15th session of the UN Human Rights Council’s UPR from January 21 to today.

The UPR is a  mechanism of the Human Rights Council aimed at improving the human rights situation in each of the UN member states.

Under this, the rights situation of all member states is reviewed every four to five years. About 42 states are reviewed each year during three working group sessions dedicated to 14 states each.

In the working group’s draft report, Nepal called for the UAE to “continue efforts to safeguard the dignity and protect the interests of migrant workers, including through requisite institutional and legislative measures.”

The UK added: “Write and publish an action plan with clear milestones and timelines to ensure swift and effective implementation of legislation protecting the living and working conditions of foreign workers.”

In presenting the UAE’s report to the UN Human Rights Council this week Dr Gargash while describing the strides made in labour conditions, conceded it was an area that would need continuous improvement.

In the report released yesterday, several countries also commended the positive steps taken by the nation.

Australia welcomed the UAE’s efforts to eliminate gender-based discrimination, including through granting citizenship rights to all children of UAE women, while Hungary lauded the UAE on its high ranking in the index on the rule of law and judicial transparency.

But the UAE was advised to further enhance gender equality, accord inheritance rights to women, eliminate domestic violence, improve media freedom, protect human rights defenders and establish a national human rights institution.

Germany said: “Amend the Penal Code in order to repeal the right of a husband to punish his wife and the right of parents or custodians to punish their minor children by means of physical violence or coercion.”

Nations also repeated their calls to abolish the death penalty – a recommendation rejected by the UAE after its 2008 review.

After the first review, the UAE adopted 38 out of 74 human rights recommendations made by the council and made nine additional voluntary pledges.

It rejected some others, including calls to abolish the death penalty, extend freedom of assembly and association, and grant migrant workers more rights.

One of the recommendations accepted was to allow Emirati women married to non-citizens to pass their nationality on to their children.

In December 2011, Sheikh Khalifa, the President, announced that children of Emirati women married to foreigners could apply for citizenship once they turned 18.

The report also addressed the issue of the more than 90 members of an Islamist group recently detained in the UAE.

“On the issue of a group recently detained in the UAE, the delegation explained that the country had to deal with the challenge of extremist organisations, which did not share the UAE’s progressive vision of society, including the empowerment of women and pursuing religious tolerance,” it said.

“The UAE would not abandon its progressive agenda because of different views held by a small minority.

“However, the issue would be addressed in accordance with due process and in line with the UAE’s legal framework, and the cases concerned had now been sent to court.”

The UAE has been asked to ratify protocols and conventions including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Convention on the Rights of the Child.

pkannan@thenational.ae