A meeting starts today in Bonn from which it will come out a first proposal for the Cop-28 agendathe annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, to take place from 30 November to 12 December in Dubaiin the United Arab Emirates.
Amnesty International took the opportunity to send to the state delegations present in Bonn a report on the situation of human rights in the Gulf state and to point out that, as on the occasion of the Cop-27 in Egypt, holding a conference on rights issues – such as that of a healthy environment – in a highly repressive environment risks jeopardizing its success and preventing the full participation of a key actor, such as civil society.
The main human rights concerns concern the suppression of the right to freedom of expression, online surveillance and also – an aspect even more closely linked to COP-28 – the stubbornness with which the Emirates refuse to consider a rapid exit from the production and use of fossil energy. No wonder: the COP-28 chairman is the head of the UAE oil agency…
The laws in force in the Emirates prohibit the expression of criticism of the state and the government and also provide life imprisonment and the death penalty for those who oppose the government system or damage national unity or the interests of the state: completely vague and generic formulas that lend themselves to punish legitimate peaceful expression of dissent. Two former presidents of the Association of Jurists are still in prison, “guilty” of having signed a petition in 2011 calling for democratic reforms. And they are by no means the only ones…
The UAE has long and heavily used digital surveillance of human rights defenders and critics of the authorities. The most famous case is that of Ahmed Mansoor, arrested in 2017 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for “offending the prestige of the UAE”, just for making posts on social media.
Journalistic inquiries, complaints from human rights organizations and even a UK court ruling all confirmed that UAE authorities had been spying on the late human rights defender Alaa al-Siddiq and also a member of the House of Lords. It is suspected that directors and journalists of the Financial Times, dell’Economist he was born in Wall Street Journal. The risk that civil society representatives present at Cop-28 will also be subjected to digital espionage is therefore very high.
Other problematic areas from the point of view of respect for human rights are the exploitation of migrant labour, gender discrimination, the criminalization of consensual same-sex relationships between adults and intervention in the conflicts in Libya and Yemen, which resulted in violations of international humanitarian law.