African migrant workers brutalised in UAE – report
A group of African workers in the United Arab Emirates have been brutalised, thrown into jail and then deported, researchers from two NGOs have found.
In a new report, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and Impact International for Human Rights Policies detail how the migrants were arrested en masse in June and then subjected to brutal treatment while in prison.
“They took us straight to prison, not even a police station,” Ugandan Kennedy Rubangakene told Focus on Africa TV.
“I was surprised because I did not know why I was there. I worked [there] legally I had the legal documents. My contract had just been renewed.
“There was no offence that I was charged with. They did not even take me to court. There was no offence.”
The authorities in the UAE said the arrests were legal and aimed at “prostitution networks [which] were involved in human trafficking offences, indecent acts, and extortion” adding that “those arrested were found to be involved in these crimes”.
The researchers spoke to more than 100 of those affected, mostly from Uganda, Cameroon and Nigeria.
They had valid paperwork and were employed in a variety of roles including cleaners, waiters, nurses and electricians, the report says.
The “attacks were planned, targeted and racially motivated”, Michela Pugliese from Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor alleged on the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.
She also detailed how privileges among workers in the UAE vary according to ethnic origin.
In response, the UAE government “categorically denied the report’s racist suggestions, stressing that the [country] adopts strict laws and practices with regards to non-discrimination in all cases”.
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