Abu Dhabi, Jan 25 (Calcutta Tube) The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has said that a report by international rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) was ‘unbalanced’ and a ‘factually-incorrect’ account of the human rights developments in the country.
The statement came in response to the release of the Human Rights Watch 2010. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sunday said the report ‘has major drawbacks and fails to adequately record the positive steps taken by the UAE with regard to labour and human trafficking issues not just in 2009, but also in the last few years’.
The UAE remains firmly committed to playing a lead role in the region and internationally in tackling issues related to human trafficking, WAM news agency reported.
Human Rights Watch had said earlier Sunday that governments in the Middle East were responsible for serious human rights violations over the past year, including harassment and attacks against human rights defenders and organisations that document abuse.
The ministry official said that the UAE was ‘not averse to admitting its failures, but finds it unsettling when genuine efforts and constructive results find little or no recognition in reports such as the one released by the Human Rights Watch (HRW)’.
‘The resulting picture is one that is deceptively selective and does not paint a clear picture of the status of human rights in the country. It is unfortunate that the HRW report repeats old issues and does not document any new developments or international recognition that the UAE has received for its improving human rights track record especially in the field of labour.’
‘We have nothing to hide,’ the official said, explaining that ‘the two special UN rapporteurs – one on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and the other on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance – visited the UAE separately and held discussions with various ministries, civil society organisations, academics and ordinary citizens in several emirates.
A preliminary report of the rapporteur said: ‘The recent review of the UAE by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and by the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council demonstrates that the authorities are willing to find ways and means of addressing human rights challenges faced by the people in the UAE and to ensure compliance with international human rights standards.’
The HRW report did not present a balanced view of the comments of rapporteurs, the government said.
Referring to the ‘factual inaccuracies that were aimed at sensationalising the report’, the ministry of foreign affairs pointed out that the reference to workers’ strike was not over ‘low wages’, but over ‘overtime pay’, which are ‘qualitatively different issues’ and related to the general economic downturn.
The ministry official went on to say that such reportage totally ignores the unique Wage Protection System, which channels workers’ salaries through banks rather than cash handouts, and which became operational last year. By November, more than 500,000 workers were already receiving their salaries through this system.