Island ‘turning a blind eye’ to UAE’s failings

JERSEY is failing to recognise the poor human-rights records of some countries with which it does business and the Chief Minister is ‘blind’ to such issues, a former minister has said.

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Senator Sam Mézec said ministers should not hold talks with jurisdictions such as the United Arab Emirates, which Chief Minister John Le Fondré visited earlier this week, unless its ‘poor’ human-rights record was challenged.

Senator Le Fondré has spent the past week in the Middle East exploring ‘the wider Jersey-UAE relationship’, which has included attending the Global Business Forum and meeting members of the Emirates government.

His trip followed a visit to the Island last week by Mansoor Abulhoul – the UAE ambassador to the UK.

But Senator Mézec said there were a number of issues in the country relating to the ‘torture of political dissidents, horrific persecution of gay people and women and its role in the war in Yemen’.

He said: ‘In all of our engagements with the UAE we have failed to recognise its dictatorship and poor human-rights records. No single discussion should be had with these types of countries without raising such topics.

‘The visit shows that he [the Chief Minister] is blind to these issues and is treating them as normal, upstanding members of the international community, which is dishonest. It is hypocritical that on one hand our government condemns a country for its role in torturing whales [the Faroe Islands], and in the other it is flaunting about its relationship with the UAE without mentioning its poor human-rights record.’

Senator Mézec said the visit set a bad example to Islanders and showed that the Island was willing to ‘turn a blind eye’ if money could be made.

He said: ‘We should not be providing them with good publicity, even if we are only establishing business relationships with them, because that is exactly what they want. It enables them to appear as upstanding members of the international community, when they are not.’

In a social media video post, Senator Le Fondré said: ‘As the UAE celebrates its 50th national anniversary, the links between Jersey and the Emirates have never been stronger. I have already been learning more about those diverse links and promoting them during this visit.

‘Across culture, finance, wellbeing, tourism and heritage, there is certainly much to admire and much to develop.’

Senator Le Fondré has been asked to respond to Senator Mézec’s comments but had not done so at the time of going to print.

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