UAE forbids human rights conference in Dubai
The internationally renowned human rights organization had planned to release its 2014 report on rights abuses in the UAE in a Dubai hotel conference room that was reserved over a month ago. However, hotel staff informed HRW early Thursday morning that the reservation had been cancelled due to the fact that the organization did not have the necessary "special government permit" to hold the conference in the first place.
"Blocking Human Rights Watch from holding a news conference in the UAE sadly underscores the increasing threat to freedom of expression in the country. If the UAE wants to call itself a global media centre, it needs to show that it respects freedom of speech and the open expression of critical ideas, not shut down media events," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's chief for the Middle East and North Africa.
"The UAE's repressive laws and dysfunctional justice system belie the government's efforts to present the country as moderate and progressive.The UAE might seem like a safe place to shop, do business, or take a winter holiday but it's becoming a very dangerous place to express a political opinion," said Whitson.
The Gulf state has become notorious for its poor foreign worker treatment and has not yet seen uprisings similar to those conducted in other countries in the region during the Arab Spring era.