Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Bush administration has suggested that the United Arab Emirates is good enough to run our ports. However, based on their human rights record, I have to disagree. Oh, and there is the little matter of nuclear proliferation on the table too.

Begin with human rights concerns:

In 2002, for example, Reverend Fernando Alconga was arrested in Dubai for the crime of handing out Christian Bibles. After nine months in prison, he was deported back to his native Phillippines and told not to return. We know it's a Muslim country. But also apparently a religiously intolerant one.

Our government also has some objections though: According to a report issued last year by the Congressional Research Service,

Political reform has been minimal, but its relatively open economy and borders, particularly in the Emirate of Dubai, have caused problems in proliferation, terrorism and human trafficking.

Later on we find,

As stated in repeated U.S. reports on human rights practices worldwide, the UAE has "no democratically elected institutions" and citizens "do not have the right to form political parties."...Freedom of assembly is forbidden by law.

Although Dubai is noted as having made some progress on women's rights, there is still much to be made. The report goes on:

The State Department's report on human rights practices for 2004 cites numerous human rights restrictions such as restrictions on freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and worker's rights...

Another social problem might be the result of the relatively open economy of the UAE, particularly the Dubai Emirate. The State Department human rights report for 2004 notes that "Trafficking in women and girls used as prostitutes and domestic laborers continues to be a problem." The report also identifies trafficking in young boys used as camel jockeys... The latest State Department report on human trafficking, released in June 2004, moves UAE from Tier 1, the best rating, down to Tier 2, saying the UAE demonstrated "lack of appreciable progress in addressing trafficking for sexual exploitation."

Later, while the report expresses a positive view of UAE's efforts against terrorism, we find:

The UAE record in assisting the United States' efforts against proliferation may be of somewhat greater concern. In connection with recent revelations of illicit sales of nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea by Pakistan's nuclear scientist, A. Q. Khan, Dubai was named as a key transfer point for shipments of nuclear components sold by Khan. Two Dubai-based companies were apparently involved in trans-shipping such components: SMB Computers and Gulf Technical Industries.

There is a lot that needs to be 'reviewed,' and I believe that this deal should be rejected.

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