UAE boasts of sending astronaut to space, fails to address racism against black immigrants at home

Euro Med Monitor

Geneva –

The United Arab Emirates government boasts of sending an astronaut to space and even appointing a Minister for Happiness and Wellbeing, but is failing to hold its police force accountable for egregious violations against migrant workers back at home.

In a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council’s 51st session, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and GIWEH condemned the horrific racism and discrimination directed at the UAE’s migrant workers—who have made significant contributions to the country’s economy and infrastructure—saying, “It is immensely disheartening that in the year 2022, [racist acts occur] in societies that claim to be civilised, modern, and enlightened”.

Euro-Med Monitor’s Chief of Programs and Communications, Muhammed Shehada, delivered the statement to the Council. Shehada spoke of the “sweeping and arbitrary” UAE police campaign that took place a year ago, during which at least 375 African migrant workers were detained and deported. “They had been living and working in the country legally, and had only committed the crime of having a different skin colour”, Shehada added.

It is immensely disheartening that in the year 2022, in societies that claim to be civilised, modern, and enlightened, many people are still on the receiving end of appalling racism and discrimination

Muhammed Shehada, Chief of Programs and Communications at Euro-Med Monitor

Euro-Med Monitor, in collaboration with the London-based think tank ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies, has exposed grave violations in the UAE, including the imprisonment, torture, and forced deportation of hundreds of African migrant workers in June 2021.

In a September 2021 report based on more than 100 testimonies titled “They told us they hated black Africans“, Euro-Med Monitor and ImpACT revealed that UAE authorities carried out a campaign of massive incursions and arrests against hundreds of African workers in the country on 24 and 25 June 2021. The migrant workers were unlawfully detained and tortured before being deported en masse, apparently on racial grounds.

In their statement to the Council, Euro-Med Monitor and GIWEH called on UAE authorities “to take a clear and public stance against racially motivated targeting of migrants of colour, and to ensure that any individuals that have already suffered inhumane and discriminatory treatment be appropriately compensated”.

Full statement:

Mr President,

It is immensely disheartening that in the year 2022, in societies that claim to be civilised, modern, and enlightened, many people are still on the receiving end of appalling racism and discrimination.

The UAE government boasts that it has sent an astronaut to space, that it has invented a Ministry of Coexistence and Tolerance, and even appointed a Minister for Happiness and Wellbeing, yet when it comes to migrant workers who have contributed significantly to the country’s economy and infrastructure, the UAE government has failed to hold its own police force accountable for a number of egregious human rights violations against people of colour.

A year ago, for example, the UAE police carried out a sweeping and arbitrary campaign in which it detained and deported at least 375 African migrant workers. They had been living and working in the country legally, and had only committed the crime of having a different skin colour. They have been seized at night in terrifying raids, then put in inhumane, degrading conditions in prisons and collectively deported after being stripped of their belongings and legal documents, without any legal counsel and/or any due process. Even today, the UAE government has not addressed this or similar incidents.

Euro-Med Monitor and GEWIH call on UAE authorities to take a clear and public stance against the racially motivated targeting of migrants of colour, and to ensure that any individuals that have already suffered inhumane and discriminatory treatment be appropriately compensated.

Thank you.

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