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NGOs denounce maltreatment at Abu Dhabi conf

Staff Reporter:

Non-governmental representatives participating on the third day of the MC13 of WTO in Abu Dhabi have condemned the disruption of their normal activities in the name of security.
The WTO’s (World Trade Organization) 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) has begun on Monday and it will end on Thursday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Ministers from across the world are at-tending the conference to review the functioning of the multilateral trading system and to take action on the future work of the WTO.
Three of the NGO representatives were briefly detained on various allegations in the first two days of the conference. One of them is an Indian peasant leader, who handed a paper to a journalist he knew. He was immediately arrested for allegedly distributing leaflets inside the convention centre, a detainable offence.
Two other non-government delegates from Norway and the United States were detained for taking pic-tures inside the convention centre. The security personnel also stopped leaflet distribution, confiscated placards, and stopped them from taking photos of their own actions, according to a press release received here on Wednesday afternoon.
“This is my 11th MC and I’ve never seen anything like this level of repression. The WTO Secretariat has insisted that it is working towards clarifying things with the host country. But we see no evidence that the DG – who is widely known as a person who, shall we say, can get her way when she wants – is in-sisting on our rights being restored.” said Deborah James, facilitator of the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network of CSOs (Civil Society Organisation).
The WTO Director General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has billed this ministerial meeting as the most “open, transparent and inclusive process” to date. Yet her institution is failing to ensure participants that the guiding information communicated by the WTO, and the prevailing practice with regards to what civil society can do, actually holds for MC13, Ms James added.

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