Ms President, Honourable Members [of the European Parliament],
Thank you for your intervention and this debate that I am taking on behalf of the High Representative/Vice-President [Josep] Borrell today.
Since the first round of our human rights dialogue in 2013, we have addressed areas of concern with the United Arab Emirates. We have seen improvements when it comes, for example, to gender issues and religious tolerance.
But nonetheless, concerns remain in a number of areas and on some individual cases, which we continue to raise with the Emirati authorities. Ahmed Mansour is one of these cases, which we have been actively following both from Brussels as well as via our Delegation in Abu Dhabi. We regularly seek clarifications from the Emirati authorities on his situation, his health and his access to medical treatment.
In doing so, we have constantly reiterated the European Union's principled position in support of human rights defenders and freedom of expression, in line with European Union Guidelines. Following the confirmation of Mansour’s ten-year sentence in December 2018, the European Union stressed publicly that no one should be detained for peacefully expressing his or her opinions.
At the most recent dialogue held on 9 June, the European Union again stressed the importance of accountability and respect for the United Nations Mandela Rules. We also encouraged the Emirati authorities to consider acceding to core United Nations human rights treaties and to invite United Nations Special Procedures. The meeting also allowed raising individual cases, including that of Ahmed Mansour.
In the same vein, and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights [Eamon Gilmore] raised the cases of imprisoned activists with Emirati authorities, pleading for their release, even on humanitarian grounds.
The intensification of overall European Union engagement with the United Arab Emirates in the past year, should lead to an improvement of the country’s human rights situation. We have already started sharing European Union expertise in specific human rights related domains. We also look forward to engaging with the United Arab Emirates on its National Action Plan for Human Rights, which is under preparation.
The European Union will remain actively engaged on human rights and human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates. The envisaged missions of the High Representative/Vice-President Borrell will offer an additional opportunity to stress the importance of civil and political rights in the country.
We will continue to follow closely and raise the case of Ahmed Mansour. We will do this in a spirit of partnership, but remain steadfast in our principles and expectations.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-210418