11/02/2012, 00.00
ARAB LEAGUE - EUROPEAN UNION
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Arab League Vs Europe: we have our human rights charter, we shall have our court

A report by the European parliament on human rights in the United Arab Emirates stirs a hornet's nest, especially when it comes to dissidents, death penalty and the rights of women and foreign workers.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Arab League has come to the defence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has been criticised in a human rights report by the European parliament. The League said that it already had an Arab human rights charter and could set up an Arab Court for Human Rights; "that's why we do not wait on international parties to assess human rights in the Arab world".

Released on 26 October, the European report criticised the UAE's treatment of political dissidents and its use of the death penalty, calling on the major oil producer to respect the rights of women and migrant workers.

The European parliament report noted that the UAE had "accelerated its crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists, bringing the number of political detainees to 64", most of whom are held in solitary confinement and without legal help.

The Arab League's response calls the report "biased and prejudiced," following a similar statement by the UAE's foreign minister, Anwar Gargash, who said, "The biased and prejudiced report levelled unsubstantiated accusations without examining the facts of the situation on the ground".

On the issue of the rights of women and migrant workers, the foreign minister noted that people from more than 200 nations lived in the country "in an atmosphere of openness and tolerance".

"The report contains huge exaggerations in its comments against a sovereign nation," Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmad Bin Hala said. "Perhaps the EU did not look into the circumstances in a very accurate manner, and the reality of human rights in the Arab world is still absent to international human right bodies".

He pointed out that the foreign ministers of the 22-nation league had agreed to the creation of an Arab Court for Human Rights, which will be discussed in the upcoming Arab Summit.

"We all know that the UAE is a country that's open to the world," Hala added. It has "people from more than 193 countries working there. It enjoys a high number of investments, and economic and social activity. Due to its openness, everything is clear and transparent in the UAE".

The UAE is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and is an important business partner for the European Union, with bilateral trade last year reaching € 41.4 billion (US$ 54 billion).

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