|By PR Newswire||
|February 26, 2014 05:01 AM EST||
BEIRUT, February 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
The Gulf Centre of Human Rights would like to remind the European Union of their dedication to human rights. As the European Parliament will vote on Thursday, February 27th on whether the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should join the Schengen Agreement, there is reasonable doubt that human rights still have the top priority of this institution.
"We, as human rights organizations working in the region, want to see a strong statement from the EU when it comes to human rights violations in repressive countries like the UAE. The EU needs to carry out its full responsibilities in the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy in the countries of the Near and Middle East," explains Khalid Ibrahim, Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.
"Inaction is not an option with the rulers of countries such as UAE," says Khalid Ibrahim. The EU should act in line with the European Parliament resolution of October 26th, 2012 on the deteriorating human rights situation in the UAE which "expressed great concern about assaults, repression and intimidation against human rights defenders, political activists and civil society actors within the United Arab Emirates who peacefully exercise their basic rights to freedom of expression, opinion, and assembly" and called on the authorities "to halt the ongoing crackdowns immediately" and "release all prisoners of conscience and activists, including human rights defenders."
However, after more than a year, there are strong indications that the authorities in the UAE are not showing willingness to address the international concerns. The Gulf Centre of Human Rights witnessed in the last year a dramatic increase in the repression of human rights defenders and activists in the UAE, leading to the arrest and detention of dozens of citizens including lawyers and academics. Tight restrictions on freedom of expression and association are in place, compounded by the introduction of new legislation to curb the use of the internet and social media networks by human rights defenders and activists.
"We deplore that the EU has failed to fully undertake to integrate human rights into all EU policies and actions with regard to the UAE and if voted this week in favour of the Schengen Visa waiver, this easily could be regarded by the UAE rulers as a support to their massive human rights violations, which are well documented by the international human rights movement," concludes Khalid Ibrahim.
The Gulf Centre of Human Rights urges the EU institutions and EU Member States to strongly, collectively and publicly insist that the UAE should immediately and unconditionally release all the detained human rights defenders and activists; in addition to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
Gulf Centre for Human Rights