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Euro-Med Discusses Gulf’s Human Rights Situation at EU

Brussels - The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor discussed, with the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Arabian Peninsula (DARP), Mark Tarabella, the human rights conditions and restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression in the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“The human rights situation in the Gulf is one of the top priorities of the work of the Delegation,” said Tarabella during his meeting with the Regional Director of Euro-Med Monitor in Europe, Mohamed Shehadeh. He added that the Delegation, whose members were elected last September, is planning to organize visits to the Gulf in February 2020, to get a closer look at the reality of the human rights situation there, says.

Shehadeh and Tarabella discussed the danger of politicizing the work of human rights organizations, rather than focusing on issues that could be addressed to improve the lives of citizens in the Gulf region.

They discussed ways to focus on human rights issues that affect the daily lives of citizens, violations of the rights of foreign workers, the sponsorship system and its association with slavery and restrictions imposed on freedom of opinion and expression in general in the Gulf States.

Shehadeh briefed Tarabella on the conditions of work in Saudi Arabia in two fields of shepherding and agriculture where Saudi citizens refuse to work in those fields , which contributed to relying on foreign workers to work in these professions without obtaining their rights because these occupations are not covered by Saudi labor laws.

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During the meeting, Shehadeh raised the issue of the UAE authorities' ongoing detention of prominent human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, and the Saudi security’s kidnapping of Princess Basma Bint Saud, a prominent activist in women's rights and democratic work.

On the other hand, Shehadeh and Tarabella discussed the EU use of economic incentives to urge the Gulf states to respect human rights principals, and warned of economic sanctions on Gulf exports to Europe and vice versa in the event of explicit violations.

They also discussed the possibility to use tourism sanctions, such as excluding the UAE or other gulf countries from the "Schengen Visa" as a pressure tool on the UAE government to respect the basic principles of human rights, and activating the role of the LIBE to monitor the human rights situation in the region.

Shehadeh urged the need to use economic incentives to improve the human rights situation in the Gulf. Such as reducing taxes on Gulf exports under the European Union law called “Generalized Scheme of Preference” in the event of respecting foreign labor rights and developing working conditions.

Shehadeh informed Tarabella of the Euro-Med Monitor’s priorities in the human rights work in terms of focusing on changing the statistical narrative to shed light on the victims in a humane way and highlighting their individual stories.

He also discussed ways of joint cooperation by organizing joint activities betweenEuro-Med Monitor and MPE such as awareness-raising activities, lectures and hosting MPEs in the activities of the Euro-Med Monitor in Geneva.

Shehadeh also introduced the Euro-Mediterranean activities and the most important recent activities, including the British and Brazilian Parliament seminars and the events and workshops organized last September at the headquarters of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
At the end of the meeting, Tarabella welcomed Euro-Med Monitor’s activities, and called on constant communication to exchange ideas and work to establish joint activities between the two sides in the coming period.

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