Counselor Mansour Lootah: In response to the Human Rights Watch Report… “We will proceed in the development of our system of human rights with or without you”
Counselor Mansoor Lootah, the Chairman of the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights, responded to a recent Human Rights Watch Report, titled “World Report: Rights Aren’t Wrong in Tough Times” which was issued by the organization on January 29th, 2015, especially the part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which the organization has published on January 23rd under the title “Attacks on Opposition and Freedom of Expression”. He said that Human Rights Watch (HWR) claimed the Report was first issued in Dubai on January 23rd 2015 as indicated on their website, and then it was republished in Beirut on January 29th 2015 under the title “Repression on All Fronts” according to what is stated on their website. Mr. Lootah alleged that this publishing and republishing of the same report on different dates under different titles is a way in which HRW wants to delude the report’s followers and readers, a matter which clearly indicates that, there is an explicit targeting of the UAE by the organization. He equally pointed out that this targeting has its motives and grounds on the organization’s side and that they are selfish and far away from the lofty human values founded by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as enshrined by the International Bill of Rights and Freedoms. The Human Rights Watch Report specifically for this year, is a drastic violation of those rights and freedoms with its allegations, defects and contradictions which makes clear the goals, rationales and its value and considerations of rights which the Report failed to mention.. This also greatly influenced the Report’s credibility and reliability, especially in some aspects with which the Report has dealt shamefully with no justification, appreciation or respect of the public awareness, and without observing any limits of integrity, fairness and credibility.
Mr. Lootah points out in his response to the Organization’s Report, that the Report covered a number of issues in its part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Those issues have frequently been discussed and clarified in many Human Rights Forums and specialized reports, particularly the Official Report of the State and the shadow reports submitted to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other human rights specialized reports that have been published through various means of publication. Mr. Lootah stresses in this regard that a number of issues are of interest and common concern by many human rights organizations. In his response to the organization’s report, he reviewed these issues and refuted what the organization said in their offending, non-credible and unfair report. The report reviewed those issues as follows, according to the organization statements in its report.
1- Arbitrary Detention: The organization noted in its report that the United Arab Emirates exercises arbitrary detention, which represents a serious violation of human rights. We at the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights, consider it a critical accusation. Human Rights Watch sough to validate their claims with references to some arrests made on criminal charges and not for exercising their rights and freedom. Organizations like HRW should level accusations against a State only on the basis of credible evidence that can prove that a humanitarian crime has been committed. This is well-known to and accepted by all international human rights organizations. IGO has paid attention to those issues, and we’ve researched in collaboration with many of the State’s official bodies in order to identify, tackle or define the legal and procedural framework in which the arrest operation and detention must take place. The aim is to identify the mechanisms to ensure not to commit arbitrary or illegal detentions in the State, and to develop standards that are in line with the international standards applicable in this field.
2- Torture: Human Rights Watch has accused the UAE of systematically practicing torture. It is not true and neither Human Rights Watch nor any other organization can prove it as a systematic policy followed by the State. However, it is difficult to say that absolutely no torture takes place. Some individuals, due to lack of specialized training and rehabilitation practices for law keeping, application and enforcement officers, may practice it unknowingly. IGO has paid great attention to this issue to ensure that any violation relating to torture or any form of cruel or degrading treatment does not occur. We worked for a long time with many competent government agencies to develop mechanisms and standards to ban of such practices, activate the mechanisms of accountability and achieve justice if these violations are proved to be committed by any individual. It has also been ensured that the staff and officers responsible for detention and arrest centers have been training and made aware to not commit such violations. This is in addition to many decisions and legislations that condemns and criminalizes such practices, and which open the door for the human rights protection bodies in the Ministry of Interior to submit complaints and grievances relating to torture or any cruel or degrading treatment. Many investigations in this regard have already been performed and actions have been taken to achieve justice and enforce the principle of accountability.
3- Freedom of Expression, Establishing Associations and Assembly: Human Rights Watch claims that the UAE has confiscated freedom of expression and opinion with the Anti-terrorism Act passed in 2014. This Act is a legislative framework to deal with terrorist threats or to allow engagement with terrorist groups in such a manner that reinforces security, peace and stability. These are exceptional measures necessitated by recent developments in the region and by terrorist threats to many Arab, European and Asian countries that has undermined their security and stability. UAE’s respect for freedom of expression and opinion is evident in its move to allow HRW’s annual conference to be held in the country in January 2014- something which many repressive States would not have allowed. This is a sign that refutes the claims of organization about the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, the freedom of assembly is guaranteed according to administrative and regulatory controls that regulate and legalize this practice according to the law. Mr. Lootah also noted that freedom for establishing associations is guaranteed by the legal system as proved by the existence of the largest and biggest active civil society in the State, which represents the entire spectrum of intellectual, religious, political and human rights trends. With regard to the Law of Cyber Crime, which the Human Rights Watch claimed that it is used to track activists- this charge is untrue. It highlights the selective reporting of facts by the HRW, since a majority of developed countries have introduced laws to organize the use of the Internet and the development of legislations relating to electronic crimes. Those involved in the business relevant to electronic crimes are held accountable based on legally convicted activities.
4- Workers, Expatriates and Domestic Labor: The organization accused the UAE of mistreating workers and expatriates, especially domestic workers, describing it as slavery, forced labor or human trafficking. These are false accusations, since IGO pays a great deal of attention to this process. It has conducted many studies and issued several reports on foreign labor in the UAE, many of which have shown a lack of ability in addressing this issue. This is because the violations are mainly starting in the source country and a lot of the sufferings and abuses faced by expatriate workers are an extension of policies and procedures practiced against them before or while being transported to the place of their work. This emphasizes the need for a comprehensive initiative involving all parties to discuss and deal with this issue to put an end to this suffering.
5- Discrimination Against Women: The organization accuses the United Arab Emirates of exercising discrimination against women, pointing to the Personal Status Law, which they claim allows for discrimination against women, practice violence against them and violates their rights. This highlights the extent of targeting by the Human Rights Watch which reached, in some cases, the point of vulgarity. All the international reports confirm that Emirati women live in one of the best global status for women. They are granted opportunities and have the rights and freedoms to make them in the foreground at the global level. The local legislations in many cases exceed the standards provided for by international legislation on women’s rights, with a strong adherence to the Islamic law foundations of personal status law. This is a fact that no international organization or civil society can disapprove. The status of the Emirati woman is enough to prove the falsification of facts and realities included by the Human Rights Watch in their report. Today, women in the UAE are an essential partner in nation-building, and she occupies top leadership positions, works in all areas and has her presence and representation in all authorities of the State.
Based on this, in response to the Human Rights Watch Report, Counselor Lootah states that the level to which the organization fell for in order to defame the United Arab Emirates and minimize the State’s achievements with respect to the human rights is very clear. This is the policy exercised by the organization for a period of time now in accordance with agendas that has been applied against many countries as a way to blackmail them in order for them to be subjected to the organization’s agendas or to respond to their demands. The statement of the organization in their Report does not exceed the issues that are the subject of our attention in the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights and are also of interest to the State, which is a key partner in the development of our system of human rights. We collaborate with many organizations, associations and national institutions in our effort and work in order to achieve the best levels of the reality of human rights and to develop domestic legislations and practices to make them more convenient and closely compatible with international legislations. However, these do not measure up in any way to be inhumane systematic practices or egregious human rights violations by the United Arab Emirates. This is what the Human Rights Watch often tries hard to highlight and emphasize it in such a way that makes them lose their credibility and inhibits much of the reliability and integrity of their reports. the lack of credibility in the adoption of or far away from cheap agendas dealing with the human rights issues have made this international organization an obedient tool in the hands of some political systems or parties, through which they exercise their pressures and implemented cheap and vulgar goals in many cases.
In this regard, Mr. Lootah points out that the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights plays an active role in the development of the reality of human rights, specifically in the UAE, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the Arab countries in general. IGO operates in real partnership with many countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, to refine the reality of the human rights. IGO further works to develop legislations and practices of human rights and they cooperate in this regard with many Arab and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their work intersects with national human rights institutions to achieve this end. This process is based essentially on the principle of comprehensive partnership in the responsibility for human rights and inclusiveness of work, and it is through the adoption of these principles that the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights has achieved lots of accomplishments at the local, the Gulf and even the whole Arab region. These undertakings have made the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights to be a real partner inside the UAE and a key player in the Gulf in particular and the Arab world in general. IGO for Human Rights have worked diligently to improve the national and Gulf human rights system on a real partnership basis with governments and official bodies, and they seek to develop that system at the Arab level. In the meantime, Mr. Lootah stresses that such cheap reports that are issued by those organizations as a mechanism to put pressure and blackmail States and governments have a significant negative impact on the decline of the human rights systems in many countries. And this also creates negative reactions by governments and individuals, reducing the chances of cooperation and integration in work to develop the reality and legislations of human rights. Moreover, this adversely affect the faith of many of the human rights values through the tacky practices they see as from those international organizations, as well as exploiting issues, values and concepts of human rights in this cheap way. According to Mr. Lootah, we will not stand idly toward this for it is a serious issue after today, but we will respond to it by stating facts and realities and, at the same time, by disclosing the fabrications and lies of those reports in connection to evils and bad goals with which they target our homelands and communities, as being away from achieving security and peace for our homelands.
Your Reports Are Politicized… And They Are A Main Reason For Human Suffering
Counselor Lootah, in his response to the Human Rights Watch Report, stresses the seriousness of such reports lacking credibility on national and international security and peace. In this regard, he emphasizes that many of the violations and conflicts that pervade the Arab and the whole world today are nothing but one of the main results of these reports that call for dealing with the reality of human rights based on the concepts of hostility and conflict between the authorities and peoples. Such reports urge people of to take negative revolutionary actions away from the positive integrative works. At the same time, those reports absolutely visualize systems as repressive regimes that should be uprooted and eradicated, not reformed. These have founded an unfortunate reality of a constant conflict between peoples and regimes with respect to the system of rights and liberties, an issue that Human Rights Watch, along with a number of suspicious international organizations, are responsible for, because of the constant negative conflict. Those organizations worked to increase the congestion with their non-transparent, negative and senseless reports. This has been the reason for many conflicts and disputes that we see today and stand unable to address them or stop humanitarian tragedies and crimes that are committed and engaged that are, in fact, generated from those reports and practices consistently being spread in several Arab countries by the Human Rights Watch, as is the case today in Syria, Iraq and other South American countries or the so-called countries of the former Soviet Union. These organizations have worked to implement policies and directives that they should undergo and implement in order to the create hotbeds of conflict in many of these countries, through files, issues and agendas of human rights. These hotbeds have turned into disputes, conflicts and civil wars, and those organizations with their reports, orientations and agendas turned to other states and spots to spread evil and death and to eliminate the manifestations of progress, growth and prosperity there. It is a reality that we see in a number of countries, in which that organization found a comfortable and free environment to spread and devote their goals, as is the case in Bahrain and Egypt. There, that organization has contributed, with its reports, to the elimination of many of the manifestations of progress, advancement and development. The organization hit several achievements and aspects of progress in the field of rights and freedoms. Unfortunately, it created a painful reality of human rights in those countries, in addition to a decline in the rates of development and advancement. We do not accept this, and we will not stand idle after today without fighting it. We will seek, in collaboration with several national organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights to debunk those reports, clarify their goals and agendas; start a positive, integrative and comprehensive action to address the human rights issues from a positive, comprehensive, integrated perspective that seeks to develop national and regional systems with the aim of achieving progress and maintains security, stability and development in our countries.
You Are Not Partners, And We Will Continue Working Impartially, Independently And Honestly
In his response to the contents of the Human Rights Watch Report, Counselor Mansour Lootah, the Chairman of the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights, said that the Human Rights Watch has been accustomed to deal with human rights issues based on their individual perspective, without any respect for the professionalism or integration, which are the basis of human rights work. This confirms that this organization is obedient to certain political bodies and is subject to specific agendas. In the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights, we invited Human Rights Watch to attend a conference we had in Bahrain during December last year in collaboration with the “Together” Association for Human Rights in Bahrain, in which a great number of associations and national institutions in Gulf and Arab world had participated. We provided the Human Rights Watch with an open opportunity to present their vision of the human rights situation in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, believing in the importance of the participation of everyone in the improvement and development of the reality of human rights in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the organization did not respond to our invitation. Then we proposed to them that they would send us a report to present their vision and we would include it in the Conference papers. However, the organization did not deal positively with those calls as usual. In the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights, during the visit of the organization’s delegation to Bahrain last year, we requested to meet the Human Rights Watch delegation and discuss with them the human rights situation in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, particularly in Bahrain. The Human Rights Watch delegation refused to meet us several times under the pretext of their frequent concerns. This reinforces our belief that the organization’s delegation work will be limited to a single vision and a narrow horizon, which will contribute to fuelling conflicts and deepen the differences instead of calming the situations and reach consensus to end crises, rather than exacerbating thereof.
In addition, Mr. Lootah also points to the organization’s request submitted by himself to Mr. Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch during a meeting in September last year in Geneva, where the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights stressed the importance of talking about the vision of the organization of the reality of human rights in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, a demand which did not have the consent of the Director of HRW despite our emphasis to the importance of the meeting with him and in spite of the fact that we provided him with the opportunity to choose the time and place that suited him. The same thing has been faced by the organization team when the Director insisted on meeting the organization’s delegation during their recent visit to Bahrain, where they stayed at the headquarters of the delegation housing in a hotel in Bahraini capital’s, Manama. The team requested from Mrs. Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa, to meet them and discuss the human rights in Bahrain and the situation in the region, particularly as we are the only Gulf Arab organization working in the field of human rights in a comprehensive manner for all the GCC countries, but she refused to meet with us claiming that we had no appointment, and also stressing that she would not be able to meet us in all circumstances because of her concerns.
Mansoor Lootah to Kenneth Roth… Offending our countries and our religion is unacceptable and you should apologize
In his response to the contents of the recently issued Human Rights Watch Report of 2015, Counselor Mansour Lootah pointed out that the report includes in its parts points that we cannot neglect, especially the unacceptable abuses that primarily goes away from the professional framework of the human rights reports. These abuses reflect the extent of implicit targeting by the organization, which is given a legal cover; they are decisively unacceptable mistakes and errors and they represent a flagrant disagreement to the knowledge and scientific literature on which the human rights organizations are accustomed to build their reports.
With regard to the statements of Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch, at the beginning of the report under the subtitle “Tyranny’s False Comfort”, Mr. Lootah points out that this part of the Report is so defective, and it is very bad to be released by a human rights organization with a history of humanitarian work, especially as it would be considered a bad form of reporting on human rights, if it is not the worst in the history human rights reports. Kenneth Roth, in this section, linked between Islam and extremism on one hand and Islam and Daa’esh on the other hand, before reducing all of this in describing Daa’esh as Sunnis. This is an abuse that we cannot accept; rather, we unequivocally believe that Mr. Kenneth should apologize for this abuse to the Muslim community. Terrorism and extremism represented by terrorist groups do not represent Islam all together. All Islamic countries and people today equally stand in the face of such organizations, which currently afflict humanity with their terrorism and violence after they have been out of control.
Mr. Lootah also points out, in his response to the Executive Summary of the Report prepared by Mr. Kenneth Roth, that he is shocked by the manner in which the report is prepared, which makes it fully politicized and crisis provoking, mainly keeping it away from being a jurist report that aims at achieving goodness and peace for the humanity. The report unfortunately divides the Iraqi people into sects and doctrines, and it deals with the reality in Iraq from this point of human rights. It is enough to point out that the two words (Sunni and Shia) which are mentioned 13 times in only two paragraphs of the report is an issue of great sensitivity to human rights defenders. Dealing with men base on their religious or sectarian background is a rejected and unacceptable image, especially in the world of human rights. Certainly, this report will push the religious and sectarian congestion to high levels and this, in turn, will contribute to awakening the religious and sectarian conflicts in Iraq in particular and to other areas in general. The organization should have dealt with this issue professionally and according to the values and principles recognized in the field of human rights that we, in the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights, believe to deal with them based on foundations far away from religious or sectarian grounds. Terrorist groups stand behind terrorism, violence and practice murder, which that do not represent any of the Iraqi people’s classes with all their sects and doctrines components. All Iraqis should unite under a single national, comprehensive identity, standing against violence, terrorism and murder that kill them and their State, and that contribute to the elimination of the development and progress manifestations in their country. They should also stay away from everything that raises dissension and fuels internal conflicts and disputes between the component of their homeland, such as these suspicious reports that does not target our countries and peoples with goodness.
Mansoor Lootah… Offending States does not correspond to the values and principles of human rights
In his responses to the content of the Human Rights Watch Report, Counselor Mansour Lootah also addressed the overwhelming serious charges and ridiculous accusations in the report by the Executive Director of the HRW in its Executive Summary. The Report noted, in its analysis of the situation in Syria, that “Funding of extremist groups by Gulf States and their citizens also played a role” in the crisis. Mr. Lootah highlights that such an accusation is great fallacy, and that this indicates the extent of injustice in the report that is worth to describe it as the worst report issued by an international organization for human rights. The governments and peoples of the Gulf region have provided humanitarian support to Syrian brotherly people at home and abroad, and they provided no support to any terrorist or extremist groups, but they all were eager that those specific groups did not reach their humanitarian assistance. Ironically, the report did not contain any reference to any States, parties or groups that semi-officially support and participate in the wars and fights, which is one of the most prominent cases of fabrication and bias on which the Human Rights Watch built this report.
Additionally, Mr. Lootah responded to the abusing contents of the report for both the UAE and Saudi Arabia in its Executive Summary, presented by Kenneth Roth, in which the latter described the two countries “As monarchies that invoke Islam for their own legitimacy.” Mr. Lootah responded that this abuse by Human Rights Watch and its Executive Director in person is unacceptable, and that the GCC countries should activate their mechanisms of accountability and responsibility for this abuse that exceeded the standards and concepts of freedom of expression and opinion. Our countries are Islamic ones and they have a great honor for having systems, approaches and policies stem from our Islam religion, and they have a great honor that their peoples are Muslims. Such abuse does reflect more than the level of indirect targeting by using human rights files that the organization frequently and exploitatively practiced through the blackmail and threatening of countries outside their control and power.
Counselor Mansoor Isa Lootah
Chairman of the International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights
February 1st, 2015