Britain called on to press UAE on rights

April 26, 2013 at 10:17 AM

LONDON, April 26 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron is called on to "show some backbone" and press Emirati authorities on abuses, Human Rights Watch.

Cameron is to meet with Emirati President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan next week. A coalition of human rights organizations called on Cameron to address human rights concerns in the United Arab Emirates during the meeting.

Director of Middle East programs for Human Rights Watch Sarah Leah Whitson said Emirati citizens are locked up and abused for speaking their minds.

"The British prime minister needs to show some backbone and break his silence on the UAE's increasingly poor human rights record," she said in a statement.

Three British citizens were arrested for drug-related offenses in Dubai last year. More than 90 people are on trial in the United Arab Emirates on suspicion of plotting against the government.

Last week, the Emirates News Agency reported that authorities arrested at least seven Arab nationals thought to be affiliated with al-Qaida.

An Emirati human rights activist challenged claims that al-Qaida affiliates operating locally, telling the BBC on condition of anonymity the "arrests are a pretext for repression."

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