Rights Defenders Worry UAE Moving toward Police State
In a statement released Tuesday, The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) expressed concern that the U.A.E may be moving toward a police state. The GCHR recieved reports that 51 human rights activists detained during recent crackdowns are on hunger strike to protest “arbitrary arrest and illegal detention.” The center noted the detentions were extended “after the expiration of 21 days as opposed to the laws in force in the country,” and that none of the detainees were brought to court when requests for the extensions were made.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s government referred its election law to the Constitutional Court Wednesday to determine its legality. Authorities contend that the law, adopted in 2006, does not guarantee a fair distribution of the number of voters, which according to Information Minister Mohammad al-Abdullah, reduced the number of constituencies from twenty-five to five. However, opposition parties have threatened to boycott the next election if the law does not hold, and claim the increased number of constituencies undermine their chances of winning an election.
For its part the government of Kuwait began to take opinions of “political blocs, civil society institutions, youth activists and lawmakers on the proposed amendments to the electoral constituency and voting systems,” according to the Arab Times. An unnamed source claims that authorities hope to determine the best electoral system for Kuwait by collecting the views of citizens from all walks of life.
In neighboring Yemen, President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi continued efforts to solidify his control over the country’s many disparate military units. Last week, Hadi transferred control of some Republican Guard units, still under command of former President Salih’s son Ahmed, to the newly formed Presidential Protective Forces. Clashes erupted Tuesday when 200 members of the Republican Guard protested the military restructuring. The split among military forces have some fearing that the divisions will threaten Yemen’s democratic transition. However, British officials have backed efforts to reform Yemen’s military, and pledged to step up its security cooperation with the new government.