Civil society representatives accused this Wednesday (28) the United Arab Emirates, which hosts the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), of imposing “severe restrictions” on activists participating in the event.

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The group Our World Is Not for Sale (Our world is not for sale, in free translation), which brings together more than a dozen NGOs, said it has filed an appeal with the WTO following a series of incidents this week in Abu Dhabi.

The capital of this Gulf country hosts the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference until Thursday.

According to the NGO network, several participants have been briefly detained since Sunday, including a 24-year-old activist who was detained for an hour for taking photographs of a meeting, with a security officer in the background.

The institute also claimed that activists could not distribute leaflets, display banners or sing.

NGOs also cited the case of a civil society person who was refused entry because he was wearing a Palestinian kufiya, while other participants were allowed entry in their national dress.

The “detention, seizure of material and the severe restrictions imposed on the pressure group of civil society organizations threaten the safety of the participants”, he denounced in a statement.

“This is my 11th Ministerial Conference and I have never seen such a level of repression,” said Deborah James, one of its representatives.

Emirati authorities did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.

The WTO said it spoke to civil society representatives on Tuesday.

“After that, the director general spoke with the president of the conference to identify possible solutions and respond to the questions raised,” he said.

The UAE prohibits unauthorized gatherings of people and limits forms of expression that it considers disruptive.

Edition: AFP


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