The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUCAfrica)  this month  condemned acts of dehumanization meted out by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against over 700 African migrants legally working in the UAE.

ITUCAfrica  General Secretary Mr Kwasi Adu-Amankwah said  UAE used excessive force, including stun guns, beatings, and also sexually exploited and harassed women, including touching their bodies.

Significantly  to note is the fact that the affected workers have processed all their documents and it is inconceivable  why they should be subjected to such inhuman treatment.

UAE authorities directed repression and inhuman treatment of African migrant workers where they were rounded up and detained simply because their colour  is black.

Credible sources confirm  UAE government used Abu Dhabi’s Rapid Intervention Forces (SWAT), Criminal Investigation Department, and police in carrying out well coordinated mass arrests.

The distasteful, inhumane and unacceptable actions meted out against African labour migrants are revelations contained in the report from the authenticated investigative journalism work of impACT International for Human Rights Policies and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

According to the report, over 800 labour migrants with 700 of them being African labour migrants and the rest of Asian origin were affected. The accounts and testimonies of the victims noted that the Emirati Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) raided five residential buildings in Abu Dhabi known to house African nationals in the early hours of 24 and 25 June 2021.

The victims were only allowed to take their passports during the raids whilst the Police officers were shouting and hauling racial abuses at them. Migrants were denied access to medical and legal assistance while in detention.

They were subsequently deported after long illegal incarceration with their personal belongings confiscated.  But until their deportation, none of the victims was charged and taken to court for any offence in the five weeks of detention. Female victims including pregnant women were sexually harassed, humiliated as some were arrested naked or in underwear and bundled on trucks. All the manhandled African migrant workers possessed the necessary, legitimate and valid documents to live and work in the UAE.

African governments should condemn the United Arab Emirates authorities for gross human rights violations plus racist and hate attacks against over 700 African labour migrants. The UAE should unconditional release all those still detained in various locations.

The African Union Commission in conjunction with African governments,  and members of the international human rights defenders’ community, and global international agencies including the International Labour Organisation (ILO), should condemn in the strongest terms possible  and  imposed punitive sanctions on UAE.  Efforts should be made to apprehend perpetrators of these heinous acts and indeed crimes against humanity and prosecuted in courts of law.

African governments should address the protests through their embassies with view  to making UAE compensate African migrant workers for torture inflicted on them and for money and property lost. The United Arab Emirates should stop gross human rights violations including violating labor rights. Lives of African migrant workers also matter■

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