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What is UAE desperately hiding, Amnesty asks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows migrant laborers on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates. (Human Rights Watch)

United Arab Emirates authorities have denied an Amnesty International expert entry to the country, the London-based rights group says.

UAE airport officials barred the group’s acting head of business and human rights, James Lynch, from entering the country on Tuesday as he was en route to a conference in Dubai, a statement released by Amnesty said on Wednesday.

According to the statement, the activist was scheduled to give a speech on the protection of migrant workers' rights during the construction boom across the Persian Gulf.

No justification was provided for the incident that forced Lynch to book a flight back to the UK on Wednesday, but the activist said he had seen a deportation order in Arabic in the hands of an airport official which stated the entry prevention was based on security reasons, Amnesty said.

"By preventing human rights groups from engaging the region's business leaders on migrant workers' rights, the UAE authorities are simply continuing to brush this urgent issue under the carpet in the hope nobody will notice," Lynch said in the statement.

The UAE’s latest move has been censored by Amnesty's regional chief Said Boumedouha.

"What is the UAE so desperately trying to hide? This shocking move will only further damage the country's reputation, one they are so keen to protect," he said.

In some Persian Gulf states such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, foreign workers are exposed to passport confiscation, non-payment of wages, excessive work, food deprivation and psychological and physical abuse, drawing criticism from various International rights organizations.


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