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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights in the United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - 1:30pm
B-318 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on strengthening human rights mechanisms, the rule of law, and criminal investigations to end the climate of impunity in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Please note that the hearing will feature excerpted film footage of video material depicting scenes of torture which are extremely graphic and disturbing in nature. Following an announcement by the Chair, members of the audience may choose to leave the room. The footage is NOT suitable for anybody under age, including minors accompanied by adults or teachers.

Some video footage recently aired by ABC News in late April of this year has brought the issue of impunity for gross acts of human rights violations in the UAE to the attention of a larger audience. The footage, reportedly produced in 2005, depicts Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, brother of the country's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed, and younger brother of the President of the U.A.E., Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, severely torturing an Afghani grain dealer. Parts of the tapes were allegedly shown to an US employee at the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi at the time. Later, excerpts of the tapes were introduced in court in the United States on behalf of a former business associate of Sheikh Issa’s in a currently pending civil suit under the Torture Victims Protection Act.

Over the weekend, the Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution Office issued a statement that the Judicial Department of Abu Dhabi had accepted the recommendation of its Human Rights Office to refer all documents related to the broadcasted videos to the Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution Office. The Human Rights Office had met with the victim, and recommended the suspension of all individuals involved from their duties pending a criminal investigation. According to an UAE official representative, Sheikh Issa was put in pretrial detention in a jail attached to a police station. That the sense of impunity is not limited to members of the royal family, but also includes other UAE citizens, was highlighted by the State Department Country Report for 2008: ”Trafficking in persons continued, and legal and societal discrimination against women and noncitizens was pervasive. The government severely restricted the rights of foreign workers. Abuse of foreign domestic servants was common.”

Please contact Hans Hogrefe (Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599.

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Frank R. Wolf, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC


  • Mr. Samer Muscati, Researcher for the Middle East and North Africa Division, Human Rights Watch
  • Mr. Zahir Janmohamed, Advocacy Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, Amnesty International



111th Congress