• Detained in Dubai

Xmas parties, omicron overshadowing progress


Preoccupation with Covid sees strengthened relationships with authoritarian governments

Strengthening alliances with the UAE and China while the UK remains preoccupied with Covid 'variants' and Xmas scandals.


For two years, Covid has dominated the media and our daily lives, overwhelming police forces with the enforcement of lockdowns and mandated masks, stifling and delaying not only medical treatments for diseases like cancer, but side-lining other issues like foreign policy and human rights.


The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has focussed more on strengthening relationships with Middle Eastern countries for financial and enforcement reasons while failing to progress mutual concerted agreement on human rights violations against British citizens by these same allies.


The Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab, MP advised Baroness Whitaker, MP in July that the United Kingdom had significant influence in the United Arab Emirates to promote the UK’s position on human rights, yet no visible progress has been made in this area.

The UAE’s influence in the UK and the US has increased over the past ten years with significant investment into lobbying firms who target politicians, think tanks, policy influencers and prominent journalists.

Over the past decade, the US swept Iran sanction violations under the rug despite the matter being raised to Secretary Clinton, and now there is serious concern over the deepening relationship between the UAE and China. British courts have ruled that Sheikha Shamsa Al Maktoum was kidnapped from British territory before the 2018 attack on a US flagged yacht in international waters and the kidnapping of Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum along with five foreign nationals. We can see an escalating insolence coming from our ‘allies’ that poses a danger to security and to individuals.


Next month, there is a Coroners Court Inquest into the death of Lee Bradley Brown, a British national who was killed in police custody ten years ago. Several witnesses confirmed his death was a result of police brutality and despite repeated requests, the UAE refused to supply CCTV evidence they ‘claim’ would have exonerated them. There have been no sanctions or consequences for the Iran sanction violations and so the UAE has felt further emboldened to commit heinous acts against British citizens like Matthew Hedges and Albert Douglas, a grandfather who is currently undergoing surgery to repair his broken bones after having been beaten by prison guards.



Forced confessions, unfair trials, wrongful and lengthy detentions, human rights violations and torture remain widespread in the UAE. The British courts continue to decline extradition requests for this reason and the EU Parliament voted to boycott Dubai’s expo this year over human rights concerns.


The lack of response from the US and UK emboldens not only the UAE but its neighbours and allies and this is likely to have contributed to Saudi Arabia’s extrajudicial execution of Khashoggi. If we do not establish a consensus on these issues, individual and national security remains at risk.


The UAE’s relationship with Israel has been strengthened and while this has positive security elements, Israeli companies were implicated in supporting the UAE to spy on and hack dissidents, journalists, activists, lawyers and royals like Princess Haya and Sheikha Latifa. Detained in Dubai, and a number of their clients in litigation, were targeted by Israeli intelligence operatives while others were targeted with the infamous Israeli spyware, Pegasus. Despite these international criminal acts, the UAE was appointed to the presidency of international crime reporting agency, INTERPOL. The UAE has remained one of the top abusers of Interpol’s databases, along with China, Russia, Qatar, Saudi, Bahrain and Venezuela. It’s absurd that the UK and US allowed for this strategic ('pay to play') appointment.

Senator Ted Cruz opposed China’s Interpol presidency bid but the UAE’s appointment is just as ludicrous. Numerous British and American citizens have been unfairly detained abroad and subjected to extradition proceedings made by the UAE for the sole purpose of harassing and extorting individuals. It is undemocratic to then appoint that same abuser to Interpol’s leadership. The UK has made a number of UAE and Qatar initiated arrests which have cost the taxpayer millions of pounds only to later discover that the requests violated Interpol protocols, but the UK has remained silent over the Interpol presidency.

While Covid continues to dominate the media, authoritarian regimes like China and the UAE are using the opportunity to increase their mutual cooperation to the point where Abu Dhabi ports are being bought up by the Chinese, arousing concern from the US that they are being used for counter espionage purposes and secret prisons. And on an individual basis, the unfair detention of US and UK prisoners are going ignored by the respective foreign affairs departments.

A number of MP’s have taken on this issue, seeking increased travel warnings and even sanctions against the UAE for human rights violations and a three hour parliamentary debate has taken place today, initiated by a Scottish MP after she was appalled over the lack of care and diplomatic intervention provided by the FCDO. Numerous victims of unfair detention and human rights violations in the UAE have supported the endeavour. Famous cases like that of Billy Barclay, Jamie Harron and Laleh Shahravesh have welcomed the debate and those who remain in prison like Billy Hood and Albert Douglas remain hopeful the Foreign Office will support citizens who have become victims of injustice and human rights violations.


ABOUT | Radha Stirling

 

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