Since its inception in 1971, the UAE, which marks its 50th anniversary in few months, has made great strides in almost all fields, including human rights, social justice and human development.
The real wealth of the country is its human resources, says a key principal of the union. Thus, it was puzzling to read a completely misleading statement issued by the European Parliament last week about the state of human rights in the UAE.
A statement issued by Saeed Al Hebsi, Director of Human Rights at UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation strongly rejected the European Parliament’s statement as factually incorrect.
“Every country has its own laws and legal institutions; the UAE constitution and national legislation enshrines fundamental rights which provide for the fair treatment of all citizens and residents.”
First, the allegations in the European Parliament’s statement were addressed earlier and dismissed as they were based on unsubstantiated claims. Secondly, the statement ignores all the UAE’s accomplishments in the field of human rights over the years.
The UAE laws and legislations provide and protect personal freedoms that are completely in line with the universal codes and conventions. The UAE is a signatory of the 1993 Paris Principles for the National Human Rights Institutions, upon which the country has based its recent presidential decree establishing the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI).
Supporting human rights
The draft law to create this body was drafted in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The aim is to establish a genuine body that is empowered and able to promote and protect human rights in the UAE — a testament of the country’s strategy to join the best in the world in supporting human rights.
Early this year, the UAE took the bold step in updating its legal codes, including the Penal Code and Personal Status Laws, to confirm with the universal declarations of human rights. The UAE is also ranked as one of the top countries in the world in gender equality in the region, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap report. Women hold two-thirds of public sector jobs in the UAE.
In the federal cabinet, nine women serve as ministers while 50 per cent of seats in the Federal National Council (FNC), the UAE parliament, are held by women. In addition, 10 years ago, the UAE, in a landmark move, created a new ministry, the Ministry of Tolerance, which is tasked with expanding the freedom of religion in this multicultural country.
These are but few of the many achievements of this young nation in the fields of human rights and freedoms. Those achievements, recognised worldwide, made the UAE a top destination for people from different parts of the world to live, work and raise their families.
Therefore, it is perplexing to read the prejudiced statement by the European Parliament, which has obviously ignored the reality of a country of more than 9 million citizens and expatriates who enjoy fair treatment under its modern and transparent laws.