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Abu Dhabi: First Minister trade visit is opportunity to raise human rights

Ahead of next week's visit by Scotland's First Minister to Abu Dhabi, Amnesty International has called on Mr Salmond to stand by his election pledge that 'Scotland stands for human rights' and not let commerce get in the way of raising human rights concerns in the UAE state.

Shabnum Mustapha, Programme Director for Amnesty International in Scotland, said:

"This is an opportunity for the First Minister to show that Scotland is a country that respects and upholds human rights everywhere, as a vital part of a responsible and fair society, and will not trade them away.

"We would urge Mr Salmond to raise fundamental concerns about human rights in Abu Dhabi and across the UAE region where we have witnessed crackdowns on freedom of expression, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights facing widespread discrimination and violence, and migrant workers being exploited, abused and inadequately protected under the law.

"In light of the death sentences passed and one execution in the UAE in 2011, we urge the First Minister to call on his UAE counterparts to review the use of the death penalty."

One particular case which Amnesty International is highlighting is that of the 'UAE 5', two political commentators and three online activists, detained and charged with 'insulting officials' after calling for democracy and criticising the government.

The people of Scotland campaigned for the five men to be released during last year's Edinburgh Festival with nearly 4,000 signatures calling for their freedom collected and presented to the UAE Embassy in London. Having been pardoned by the President of the UAE last November after an initial sentence of 2 - 3 years, the five are now under a travel ban and their passports held by the state.

“The First Minister should urge his counterparts to fully uphold international standards on freedom of expression, assembly and association and end the harassment of the UAE5, their lawyers and their lawyers’ staff, as well as lift orders stripping UAE nationals of their citizenship” added Shabnum Mustapha.


  • The First Minister's two-day visit to Abu Dhabi will take place at the beginning of next week, during which time he will sign an agreement with Masdar, based in Abu Dhabi, relating to renewable energy on Tuesday (17 January). The visit comes only six weeks after the First Minister first met with the company's CEO Dr Sultan Al Jaber during his visit to Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
  • During the two days, the First Minister will also address an audience of world leaders when he attends the World Future Energy Summit as a guest of Masdar. Other speakers will include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Premier Wen of China.


For further information including case studies:

  • Siobhan Reardon: 0131 718 6684, 07855 196422
  • Follow us on Twitter: @AmnestyScotland
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