HRW Slams New UAE Law As Threat To Fundamental Human Rights

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that the wide-ranging legal changes introduced by the United Arab Emirate (UAE) in late 2021, are “deepening repression,” and pose grave threat to fundamental human rights in the country.

The HRW in its latest report said that UAE’s new law has failed to address the longstanding and systematic restrictions on citizens’ and residents’ civil and political rights.

“While the UAE government and its state-controlled media outlets trumpeted these new legislative changes as a massive step forward for economic and social freedoms, they will further entrench government-imposed repression,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“The laws continue to prohibit criticism of rulers and speech that is deemed to create or encourage social unrest, imposing severe penalties for vaguely defined charges and also protests and demonstration is prohibited,” HRW said in a statement.

The legislative change also criminalizes defamation and both verbal and written insults, whether published or made in private, as prosecutable offenses.

The HRW said that since 2011, UAE authorities have carried out a sustained assault on freedom of expression and association, arresting and prosecuting scores of independent lawyers, judges, teachers, students, and activists.

The UAE government also shut down key civil society associations and the offices of foreign organizations, effectively crushing any space for dissent.

“Local news sites, many of them owned or controlled by the government, exercise self-censorship in accordance with government regulations and unofficial red lines. Since at least 2015, UAE authorities have ignored or denied requests for access to the country by United Nations experts, human rights researchers, and critical academics and journalists,” the statement added.

The UAE has also supported the suppression of pro-democracy movements across the Middle East.

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