After 3 years of waiting, the Emirati authorities have finalized the establishment of the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) and announced the names of its members on December 18.
The stages of the establishment had passed under difficult circumstances. In 2019, the authorities announced their intention to establish a "national human rights institution", but instead of a national body, Abu Dhabi established a "national committee" headed by Minister Anwar Gargash in October 2019, in an attempt to circumvent international demands for the establishment of a national human rights body.
After the authorities clashed with the international community’s rejection of this circumvention, , Abu Dhabi announced that its goal is to develop a plan for human rights and supervise the establishment of a national human rights Institution, so that the “committee” will begin in July 2020 with holding its first meeting, And It got involved in holding dozens of meetings that Minister Gargash was keen to promote, and after a whole year, nothing resulted, except for announcing the launch of a twitter account on Twitter.
In the last days of August 2021, the UAE began taking serious steps to establish the NHRI, as it announced the issuance of a federal law on its establishment, which it said "is in line with the Paris Principles", but it has not yet been published in the Official Gazette, and it is still not available. on the Internet.
On December 18, Abu Dhabi completed the process of establishing the NHRI, as it announced the formation of it, but the surprise was that its head is an officer in the Emirati army, Maqsood Kruse, and its members are mostly police officers or government employees.
What are the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)?
The National Human Rights Institutions are official independent bodies with a legal mandate whose mission is to protect, monitor and promote human rights in a country, and monitor violations committed by the state. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has encouraged the establishment and development of such institutions.
NHRIs have specific and clear powers in relation to human rights, which include research, documentation, training and education on human rights issues. Constitutional legislation in most countries of the world provides for the establishment of national human rights institutions that enjoy legal and financial independence.
The United Nations Commission has set standards for establishing and approving NHRIs, called "Paris Principles", which contain the minimum international standards required of an NHRIs to effectively fulfill their role, such as having a broad mandate, ensuring independence, managing their own affairs away from the government, and pluralistic representation of members and staff, sufficient authority to carry out the investigation, and adequate resources.
Today, there are more than 100 such institutions in the world, almost two-thirds of which are classified as compliant with the United Nations standards set out in the Paris Principles. Compliance with these principles is the basis for accreditation at the United Nations, which is carried out by a sub-committee of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for human rights.
What are the Paris Principles and how is accreditation granted?
For an NHRI to be accredited, it must meet at least 6 criteria:
1. Jurisdiction & Mandate: The Paris Principles state that an NHRI should have a mandate as broad as possible based on comprehensive human rights standards expressly enshrined in a constitutional or legislative text that defines its composition and scope of competence.
2. independent management away from the government.
4. Composition and pluralism.
5. Adequate resources.
6. Sufficient powers of investigation.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has established a committee called the "International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions", whose objective is to ensure that NHRIs comply with the Paris principles. This institution is granted 3 levels of accreditation:
- Level A: A vting member which fully complies with the Paris Principles.
- Level B: Observer Member, wh is not fully compliant with the Paris Principles and has not submitted sufficient documentation for a decision.
- Level C: A nn-member institution that does not comply with the Paris Principles (not recognized).
In the event that an NHRI wishes to obtain accreditation from the committee, it must submit, after two years of its establishment, a set of documents, including a copy of the law under which the institution was established, the organization’s structure, a copy of its annual report, and a detailed explanation of how it complies with the Paris Principles and what aspects are It does not represent it, and any proposals to ensure compliance in the future.
Is the UAE’s NHRI considered compatible with the Paris Principles?
In order to know whether the NHRI complies with the Paris Principles, we must obtain a copy of the law to understand the mandate given to it and the extent of its independence, and whether it has sufficient resources and powers to verify and monitor human rights in the UAE.
Unfortunately, Abu Dhabi has not published the law until now, which makes it difficult to see if it is compatible with the Paris standards or not, but despite this, it can simply be confirmed that the NHRI in UAE violates the two most important standards of the Paris Principles, the first is independence from the government. The second is formation and pluralism, by reviewing the names of its members, who were recently announced by the UAE authorities.
The NHRI in the UAE consists of its Secretary-General Saeed Al Ghafli, an officer in the Dubai Police Command, who was seconded by presidential decree to work in government jobs. He is currently a member of a number of government committees, and he works primarily in the Ministry of the Federal National Council.
As for the head of the authority, Maqsoud Kruse, he is an officer in the UAE army, and he works as a member of the media team of the Council of Ministers, meaning that he is still employed in the government.
The situation is not much different for the members, most of whom are police officers of different ranks or government employees, and there are only 3 out of 11 members among them, who did not come from military backgrounds, although the three are working in independent institutions, but these institutions are affiliated with the government.
Contrary to what is stipulated in the Paris Principles, there are no members of non-governmental organizations, representatives of civil society, intellectual or religious currents, scholars or members of parliament. Rather, the NHRI is a group of officers and government employees, so how can it be independent?
The primary goal of establishing an NHRI is to monitor the human rights violations of police and government officers, not to distribute the NHRI’s positions to them, and appointing police officers and government employees to such bodies simply means that they are not independent, because there is a clear conflict of interest between their work as police officers and government employees and their monitoring of the violations of these apparatuses, it is illogical to ask a person to monitor himself.
A review of the way the NHRI was established and structured confirms that Abu Dhabi's goal in establishing it is not to protect or promote human rights, but rather just a new attempt to whitewash its image and get rid of international pressures that were demanding it to establish a national human rights commission.
And the formation of the NHRI headed by an army officer and a group of police officers and government employees can only be considered a "joke." As a matter of fact, it produced an institution that complies with the "Abu Dhabi Principles", not the "Paris Principles".