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US rights assessment report 'unbalanced'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The UAE has criticised a report by Washington on the human rights situation in the country as "unbalanced" because it ignores recent improvements, while insisting the Gulf federation is committed to bettering its rights record, state news agency WAM reported.

"The Emirati government takes seriously any fears of alleged human rights violations," WAM late Sunday reported the foreign ministry as saying.

The April 19 report by the US State Department "reflects an unbalanced image regarding the United Arab Emirates' human rights situation and has overlooked the achievements" the UAE has made in this field, the ministry said in a statement.

It dismissed the US accusations as "limited cases of alleged human rights violations."

"The UAE is facing many challenges in human rights, just as other countries. However, it is at the same time committed to moving on with strengthening human rights," it said.

The US report said that "the three most significant human rights problems (in the UAE) were arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, and lengthy pretrial detentions; limitations on citizens' civil liberties... and citizens' inability to change their government."

"Other human rights problems included reports of police and prison guard brutality," it said. "The government continued to interfere with citizens' privacy rights, and placed some limits on freedom of movement."

The 2012 annual report on human rights spoke of a lack of transparency and judicial independence despite "limited reports of corruption."

Dozens of citizens, the majority of them arrested last year, are on trial in the UAE -- a US ally -- for allegedly plotting to seize power.

The trial is the largest in the history of the UAE, which has not seen any of the widespread pro-reform protests that have swept other Arab states, although authorities have boosted a crackdown on dissent and calls for democratic reform.

The US report also criticised the oil-rich Gulf country, home to millions of foreign workers, mostly from South Asian countries on foreign labour abuses.

"The government restricted worker rights, including the rights of foreign workers. Forced labour was a problem, although the government took steps to combat it," said the report.

"Mistreatment of foreign domestic servants and other migrant workers, including sexual abuse, remained a problem."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130429/us-rights-assessment-report-unbalanced