(Beirut) – United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities refused to allow Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director, to enter the country on January 24, 2014, for a planned two-day visit to Dubai. The move followed the country’s forced cancellation on January 23 of a Human Rights Watch news conference to release its annual World Report 2014 in the UAE. Whitson has traveled to the UAE on numerous occasions.
“These petty tactics by the UAE authorities to muzzle Human Rights Watch only demonstrate the government’s intolerance of free speech and fear of critical discussion,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director. “Human Rights Watch will continue to document abuses in the UAE and to urge the government to comply with its most basic human rights obligations.”
Human Rights Watch researchers document abuses in over 90 countries around the world. The Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch covers 17 countries in the region, with staff in various cities, including Beirut, Cairo, Jerusalem, Tunis, Tripoli, Amman, Baghdad, and Rabat.
“While UAE newspapers regularly use the work of Human Rights Watch from around the world, it’s a pity the government can’t tolerate any review of its own record,” Roth said.