Abu Dhabi considers it "untrue allegations"

Will European Parliament decision shake up UAE authorities?

20 Sep 2021
Will European Parliament decision shake up UAE authorities?

Last Thursday, European Parliament 's decision regarding the human rights situation in United Arab Emirates triggered a strong reaction from the authorities of Abu Dhabi, who in turn issued an official statement strongly rejecting the "allegations contained in the decision." Abu Dhabi said: "The decision ignores the important achievements of the UAE in the field of human rights".

Following the UAE's statement issued by the UAE Foreign Ministry, a wave of skepticism and criticism of the European decision was unleashed in the Emirati media, which claimed that the decision was linked to some far-left lobbies working to distort the image of the UAE, although the decision was approved by all but one parliamentary bloc and only 47 out of 705 MPs disagreed.

Some analysts received by the Emirati media also claimed that many members of the European Parliament, who voted on the resolution, know nothing about the UAE and have never traveled there, "influenced by the false reports provided by terrorist organizations."

Moreover, Emirati media questioned the viability of the European resolution, which they said will remain just ink on paper because countries and companies are motivated by economic interests rather than human rights slogans. They pointed to the recent visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to Western countries, led by France and Britain.

However, behind the mechanisms and reasons for the European Parliament's decision, which went as far as to call for effective measures to stop the escalation of human rights violations in the UAE and proposed to boycott Expo 2020 in Dubai, are a number of important facts.

1: The decisions of European Parliament are not legally binding on the member states of European Union. Their main purpose is to express the political positions of the Parliament and to put pressure on the members of the Union to adopt certain policies. Although they are not binding, their political and media influence is great, as evidenced by the strong reaction of the Abu Dhabi.

2: These decisions depend not only on reports submitted by the parliamentary blocs, but also on reports submitted by reliable international organizations such as United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as reports submitted by representatives of Western embassies in the UAE.

3: These decisions are not taken immediately, but are usually preceded by a series of actions, such as a letter to the relevant authorities requesting clarifications on the allegations contained in the reports and urging an end to human rights violations.

4: The decision is the final stage of a long process, which often takes a very long time, given the political and economic impact that can result from such decisions.

In the case of the Emirates, European Commission contacted Abu Dhabi dozens of times requesting the release of detainees of conscience and also asking for an explanation, but the authorities refused to respond to European requests and did not provide sufficient explanations.

In recent years, the Commission has held several dialogs with the UAE authorities and formed the European-Emirati Working Group fo Human Rights, which has held 10 meetings, most recently on 14 June, to seek solutions to the human rights violations.

The result of these meetings was that the UAE implemented only one recommendation among dozens, namely the formation of a national human rights authority, and no one knows the mechanism of its formation or the content of the law that governs it.

Apart from this, the UAE authorities' policy of arbitrarily arresting human rights defenders and suppressing freedom of expression, along with an endless series of violations such as enforced disappearances and torture, continues unabated, despite all the calls from European Union and human rights organizations.

Rather, the entire content of the resolution, to which the director of the Human Rights Department in the UAE Foreign Ministry, Saeed Al Habsi, responded as "inaccurate allegations", are tangible facts that were discussed in his presence in the European-Emirati working group at Human Rights.

In addition to the dozens of statements and appeals made to the UAE authorities by European Parliament regarding the situation of human rights defenders such as Mohammed Al-Roken, Nasser bin Ghaith and Ahmed Mansoor, they found no response other than denial.

Ultimately, the decision of European Parliament was a natural consequence of the refusal of the UAE authorities to cooperate and improve the human rights situation, because the violation of these rights is no longer an internal matter. Abu Dhabi needs to realize this before it throws the country further into turmoil, as some dictatorial regimes in the Arab world have done.