Amnesty urges COP28 host UAE to free 'wrongfully held' prisoners
The human rights organisation called on the Gulf state "to release prisoners of conscience and all others arbitrarily detained in the country to ensure that COP28 provides a secure environment for all – whether Emirati or other nationals – to freely express their views".
"As global attention turns to the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) hosting of the next UN climate summit COP28, we would like to remind the world that the well-oiled PR machine cannot be allowed to distract attention from the UAE authorities’ repressive and regressive policies and practices and poor record on climate," Amnesty said.
Dozens of Emiratis who have campaigned for democracy and reform are currently being arbitrarily detained, and there are at least 26 Emiratis currently being held as prisoners of conscience, according to Amnesty's call.
Decades of targeted repression of dissent by the UAE have been so effective that "independent local civil society is now non-existent in the country", Amnesty said.
Of the dissenters that remain, "we do continue to find smaller-scale arbitrary detentions... from year to year," Devin Kenney, Gulf Researcher for Amnesty, told The New Arab via email.
Climate activists have asked why the annual UN climate conference is being held in one of the world's biggest oil producers, while human rights groups have said that allowing the country to host the conference is effectively a seal of approval for its repressive practices.
The UAE has sought to boost its green credentials, including vowing last month to triple its production of renewable energy, but climate experts have said that the country's plans to tackle its contribution to climate change are insufficient.
The Gulf state has also promised to allow climate protests to happen while the three-week conference takes place.