20 May, 2009

Arab Journalists Challenge HRW Report

From Kippreport:
Worker exploitation such as withheld wages, passport confiscation and employee-paid recruitment fees are an ongoing problem at Saadiyat Island, or “the Island of Happiness” in Arabic, says Human Rights Watch (HRW). The report, titled “UAE: Exploitations of Migrant Workers on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi,” was released on Tuesday at a press conference in Abu Dhabi.

The watchdog’s findings, however, were not well received by the Arabic media. Emirati and Egyptian journalists routinely interrupted the conference to challenge the report’s credibility and accuse the authority of taking the abuses out of context.

They also criticized HRW for revealing its findings in English first, and later in Arabic, with one journalist proclaiming that it showed the organization’s true colors and ‘hidden agenda’.

Full story here.


Anonymous said...

Silly journalists!

I read the report - they interviewed 94 workers on the island. But I could not find the questionnaire.

Just to keep this in perspective, Human Rights Watch is considered a bit extreme by most countries. Its letters to the UK and French governments have seen no response.

In the UAE WAM has released a response pretty much rubbishing the report on small sample size... etc.

One point that the report did not get is that contractors in the UAE insist on passing on recruitment costs - tickets, government processing fees, mandatory insurance required by law in the source country and in the UAE - to the worker.

So, if a construction company recruit an engineer, they will bear all costs of bringing him to the UAE. But if they hire a worker they let him take care of all expenses and only give him his salary.

Manpower supplying companies often complain about the fact that when the norm is not to charge the candidate any fees but to charge the company the equivalent of one month's salary, why is it different for poor workers? Ultimately, they cannot be expected to the bear the costs. So they pass them on the worker who is desperate to come to this gold-paved country.

The most powerful entity in this equation is the company - international and UAE-based. They CAN implement fair practices but don't.

The country's law should require that they do so. And so should corporate social responsibility.

Before anynone pounces on me for being pro-UAE, pl understand that I am only trying to bring some naunces in the picture, so it is possible to pinpoint a course of action, rather than play a blame game.

Anonymous said...

Well for those inside if you search a string of terms you'll see another wave in UK and US coverage on this.

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