Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday urged [press release] the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to reverse its decision to dissolve the board of directors of a prominent civil rights group. UAE social affairs minister, Mariam Mohammed Khalfan Al-Roumi, dismissed the elected board members of the Jurist Association civil rights group and appointed state officials in their stead. The decree dismissing the board members alleged that the Jurist Association violated UAE's recently enacted laws that prohibit nongovernmental organizations and its members from interfering "in politics or in matters that impair State security and its ruling regime." Al-Roumi issued the decree in response to a petition filed by the Jurist Association, other nongovernmental organizations, and hundreds of UAE citizens seeking political reform [Reuters report]. The petitioners are calling for increased representation in the UAE government and Federal National Council (FNC) [official website, in Arabic], the country's legislative body.
Three prominent activists who made similar calls for political reform, including rights activist Ahmed Mansoor [HRW press release], have been arrested recently. HRW also urged international public institutions [HRW press release] that have a presence in the country, such as the Guggenheim, New York University (NYU), and the Agence France Museum [official websites], to publicly condemn the UAE government's detention of rights activists. HRW has continued to monitor the UAE's compliance with international human rights standards following a 2010 report [HRW report] suggesting the human rights climate in the UAE has worsened. HRW has been particularly concerned about torture, the deterioration of conditions for migrant workers, restrictions on freedoms of expression and association, and violations of women's rights. In October 2010, HRW condemned [press release; JURIST report] a ruling by the UAE Federal Supreme Court affirming a "husband['s] right to discipline his wife" as a violation of UAE treaty obligations.