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Journalists and writers associations slam HRW report

posted on 27/01/2011: 1585 views

The UAE Writers Association and UAE Journalists Association have issued a joint statement in which they criticised allegations in the Human Rights Watch report about the situation of freedoms in the country.

The statement lamented the inaccuracy of information in the HRW report and denounced a move by two UAE citizens who sought help from international organisation without referring to local authorities to verify their claims.

"The actions by the HRW and the two individuals were aimed at the UAE reputation. The report had clearly admitted that a set of positive steps was taken by the concerned authorities in 2010," the statement said.

The Writers and Journalists Associations went on to say: "As the backbone of writing and freedom of expression in the UAE, and from our position as representatives of the intellectual and cultural segment, we can say that the two individuals have the right to express their opinions and thoughts, and that their presence in the press conference held by the HRW, was a clear evidence that the country guarantees freedom of expression.

"It is worth mentioning that the two have the right to seek help from their judges and from the country's officials to express their thoughts. The officials' doors are widely opened, with many online windows for both local and federal entities." They described the move by the two individuals as a "serious precedent that is fully rejected by the community and meant to twist facts and to smear the country's reputation", and noted that the country's constitution allows individuals to seek justice through the fair and competent judiciary system.

"As we reject questioning integrity of UAE judiciary, we also refuse attempts to interfere in the judiciary affairs. What came in the HRW report is quite the contrary of the laws observed in the UAE and their rejection of domestic violence by any family members." The statement challenged HRW to put forward any court ruling that allowed or encouraged domestic violence.

It also said that though the Writers and Journalists Associations were at the forefront of the movement that advocates freedom of expression and human rights as part of the UAE civil society, neither the complainants, nor the HRW thought of communicating with them to establish the facts.

The Writers and Journalists Associations reiterated that they enjoy complete freedom in conveying the public opinion to the officials with the required objectivity and after verifying the facts.

"The HRW report had also admitted that Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had issued an order not to imprison journalists for reasons relating to publication. The report again claimed that the publication law still provides for the imprisonment. This clearly indicates lack of knowledge about the nature of UAE society. When His Highness ordered that, he did so in his capacity as a member of the Federal Supreme Council and in his capacity as the Ruler of Dubai. Therefore, his order has become effective and the only thing that is left is to amend the law to conform with the order, which is a matter of time and procedure." The statement also noted that HRW's Executive Director for Middle East and North Africa confessed during the press conference that the report's language was exaggerated and promised to correct the generalisation in the report.

The HRW held a press conference earlier in Dubai in presence of representatives from the UAE Writers and Journalists associations, to announce the report. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


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