United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven semiautonomous emirates with a resident population of approximately 9.2 million, of whom an estimated 11 percent are citizens. The rulers of the seven emirates constitute the Federal Supreme Council, the country’s highest legislative and executive body. The council selects a president and a vice president from its membership, and the president appoints the prime minister and cabinet. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
The three most significant human rights problems in 2016 were the inability of citizens to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections; limitations on civil liberties (including the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association); and arrests without charge, incommunicado detentions, lengthy pretrial detentions, and mistreatment during detention.
Other reported human rights problems included a lack of government transparency; police and prison guard brutality; government interference with privacy rights, including arrests and detentions for internet postings or commentary; and a lack of judicial independence. The law directly prohibits blasphemy and proselytizing by non-Muslims, and indirectly prohibits conversion from Islam by referring to Sharia law on matters of religious doctrine. Domestic abuse and violence against women remained problems. Noncitizens faced legal and societal discrimination. Legal and societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS and based on sexual orientation and gender identity remained problems. Trafficking in persons, mistreatment including physical and sexual abuse of foreign domestic servants and other migrant workers, and discrimination against persons with disabilities remained problems. The government restricted worker rights. Lack of transparency and access made it difficult to assess the extent of many reported human rights problems, such as conditions surrounding detentions in state security cases, social and legal discrimination, and societal abuses of women and children.
The government investigated, prosecuted, and brought to conviction cases of official corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving security forces during the year.