United Arab Emirates /UPR:Rights committee seeks public input

ABU DHABI // The committee charged with putting together the Government’s first report to the UN Human Rights Council is looking for input from non-government organisations and members of the public.

The first draft of the report being compiled as part of the top human rights body’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism is expected to be made available to the public within the next few weeks to gather feedback.

“The periodic report evaluates the human rights policies and practices in the UAE, and it also provides us with the international best practices and different models of implementing human rights protection,” said Dr Anwar Gargash, the chairman of the committee and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Federal National Council (FNC) Affairs. “The report is a truly historical documentation of the UAE’s achievements in human rights, which demonstrate the development process in the UAE.”

Government officials and civil society leaders are part of the committee preparing the report, which is expected to act as a yardstick to measure human rights conditions and gauge progress in the future after it is delivered to the council in December.

The committee has also set up a link on the Arabic version of the FNC ministry’s website – http://www.mfnca.ae – where people can view the topics being covered by the report, as well as make suggestions and comments.

A link on the English website is expected to be launched soon. People can also email the committee at uae_upr@mfnca.gov.ae.

The report will assess the human rights situation in the UAE, looking at areas including the rights of women and children, human trafficking, access to health, and education and housing, according to the committee. Dr Gargash has already said he expected the report to focus on issues such as labour rights, an acknowledgement of a challenge the country was confronting “head on”.

The report will be submitted to the council under the new UPR mechanism and is expected to address human rights developments, the challenges facing the country and outline rights protected by the UAE’s laws and constitution and under international agreements. The UPR mechanism examines the human rights record of every UN member state through the council in Geneva, with countries scheduled to be reviewed every four years.

The council, which consists of 47 member states, was created two years ago as part of UN reforms to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. Since then, it has courted controversy for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to sit on the council.

The council will hold three sessions this year in Geneva and the UAE is among 16 states being considered at the UPR’s final session, running from Dec 1 to 12.

Source: http://www.thenational.ae/article/20080629/NATIONAL/780215274/1040/BUSINESS

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