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Geneva, November 27, 2018
In November 2015, during its 62th session, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reviewed the periodic report of the United Arab Emirates regarding its implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. At the end of the review, the Committee submitted its concluding observations to the UAE and requested the State party to submit a follow-up report to provide information on the implementation of these recommendations. However, to this day, the Emirati authorities have not yet submitted their follow-up report due since November 2017.
In its concluding observations, the CEDAW raised several concerns regarding the second and third periodic reports of the United Arab Emirates reviewed during that session. The committee pointed out the persistent refusal by the Emirati authorities to withdraw their reservations to articles 2 (f), 15 (2), 16 and 29 (1) of the CEDAW. They also mentioned the UAE’s failure to enshrine the principle of primacy of international law and gender equality in its constitution.
Furthermore, the UAE must still establish a national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles or, at least, an independent mechanism competent to receive women’s complaints. The Emirati government did not provide an accurate definition of the discrimination against women and failed to define a clear strategy to defend women’s rights.
The committee also noted the UAE refusal to end reprisals against human rights defenders, and the ineffective measures against domestic violence. In fact, the experts expressed their concerns regarding the absence of a strong civil society and the lack of a secure and favourable environment for civil society organizations. They further stressed out the importance to grant women full access to justice, especially foreign women and domestic workers.
The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights has already stated that female human rights activists and Emirati women were subjected to enforced disappearances and transferred to unknown locations. They were also prevented from seeing their families and were subjected to torture and ill-treatment.
In May 2018, recordings of female prisoners Amina Al-Abdouli, Maryam Sulaiman Al-Balushi and Alia Abdulnour were leaked from Al-Wathba prison, testifying that they were tortured, threatened and forced to sign confessions. They were also denied proper medical care, especially Alia Abdulnour, diagnosed with cancer and still detained in very poor conditions.
Female detainees are also denied the right to a fair trial and sentenced to jail terms proofs based on confessions extracted under torture and without material.
Many children and wives of convicted political prisoners stripped of their nationality were also punished and stripped of their nationality according to Federal Law No. 16 that allows extending this measure to the wife and under-aged children, in contradiction with Article 8 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by the UAE. Article 20 of the Federal Law also states that the decrees on nationality withdrawal cannot be appealed in any way.
The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights by the State Security Service’s control over the public associations and organizations. This may explain the lack of women associations that are only seven in the country, according to a census presented by the UAE in its national report presented during the last Universal Periodic Review.
It is noteworthy that Emirati officials are refusing to ratify several international treaties that guarantee and enhance the protection of women, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the Convention on Domestic Workers.
In view of the above, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights calls upon the UAE authorities to:
Stop all forms of violations of civil, political, economic and social rights of women and guarantee their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Immediately release women prisoners detained for their political and legal activities.
Conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention and bring to justice all those involved in these violations. Grant all female victims the right to reparation and rehabilitation.
Implement the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and lift all the reservations to the CEDAW.
Ratify other international covenants on the empowerment of women, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
Promptly implement the recommendations made to the UAE authorities during the 2013 and 2018 UPR.
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