• United Arab Emirates authorities have cracked down on peaceful demonstrations since the Arab Spring. They have arrested some activists, stripped others of their citizenship, and disbanded the elected boards of civil society organizations. In July, the Emirates deported to Thailand a prominent Bidun activist, who was born in the UAE, after threatening him with indefinite detention if he stayed. The Emirates has nearly 4 million migrant workers, and across the UAE many have their pay withheld or their passports confiscated. Some progress has been made on the protection of workers' rights Saadiyat Island, a high-profile development and construction zone. The country's female domestic workers remain acutely vulnerable to grave abuse.

  • New York University (NYU)’s pledge to compensate migrant construction workers for its Abu Dhabi campus who were excluded from a code of conduct designed to protect them is a positive step. The NYU president, John Sexton, announced the commitment on April 16, 2015, after a report commissioned by the Abu Dhabi government revealed the existence of a policy that excluded 30 to 35 percent of the workers from the guidelines and compliance monitoring requirements in a code of conduct covering migrant workers.

Reports

United Arab Emirates

  • Apr 21, 2015
    New York University (NYU)’s pledge to compensate migrant construction workers for its Abu Dhabi campus who were excluded from a code of conduct designed to protect them is a positive step. The NYU president, John Sexton, announced the commitment on April 16, 2015, after a report commissioned by the Abu Dhabi government revealed the existence of a policy that excluded 30 to 35 percent of the workers from the guidelines and compliance monitoring requirements in a code of conduct covering migrant workers.
  • Mar 20, 2015
    What happens when a world-class institution dedicated to the free exchange of ideas meets up with a government that doesn’t share those values?
  • Mar 11, 2015
    United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have forcibly disappeared or detained incommunicado six people since mid-2014. With the latest cases, Human Rights Watch has now documented at least eight instances in which individuals were forcibly disappeared after being in custody of state authorities and identified 12 further cases of incommunicado detention.
  • Mar 8, 2015
    Like many other countries, the United Arab Emirates will mark International Women’s Day on March 8, when we may hear more words from UAE leaders celebrating the role of women. Important as it is, this year, instead of fulsome praise, what women in the UAE really need is for their government to act to end discrimination they face in law and in practice.
  • Feb 19, 2015
    Jordan’s State Security Court sentenced a senior opposition figure on February 15, 2015, to 18 months in prison for criticizing the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Feb 17, 2015
    We write in advance of the 62nd Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and its review of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This submission addresses articles 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 12, 14, 15, and 16 of the Convention.
  • Feb 10, 2015
    Serious concerns about workers’ rights have not been resolved for a high-profile project in Abu Dhabi that will host branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and a campus of New York University (NYU), Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. These institutions should make their continued engagement with the Saadiyat Island project contingent on the developers’ commitment to more serious enforcement of worker protections and the compensation of workers who suffered abuses, including those arbitrarily deported after they went on strike.
  • Jan 29, 2015
    The UAE authorities in 2014 aggressively restricted the rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly, cracking down on dissidents and anyone considered a threat to national security, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2015. The authorities also failed to investigate credible allegations that security forces arbitrarily detained and tortured dissidents.
  • Dec 18, 2014
    The kafala visa-sponsorship system that is widely, though not uniformly, used across the Gulf bars most migrant domestic workers from moving to a new job before their original contract ends without their employer’s consent, trapping many in abusive situations. The kafala combined with inadequate labor law protections, create conditions ripe for exploitation and abuse of domestic workers.
  • Dec 11, 2014
    Jordanian authorities have broken reform promises by arresting and charging activists for speech-related offenses. At least three activists were arrested in recent months and charged with speech-related offenses under vague terrorism legislation and are being tried in Jordan’s State Security Court.