Dubai hotel cancels human rights conference

Human Rights Watch was planning to unveil its 2013 UAE report

The conference was due to be held at a hotel in Dubai's World Trade Centre.
The conference was due to be held at a hotel in Dubai's World Trade Centre.

The Hotel Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai has reportedly cancelled a scheduled news conference from Human Rights Watch at the last minute, preventing the group from unveiling a report into human rights in the region.

Human Rights Watch, which had scheduled its event for Thursday, said it was told on Wednesday by the hotel that the conference was being called off because a government permit was needed, reports ABC News.

The event was supposed to highlight the New York-based group's latest assessment on the state of human rights in the UAE.

The group said it booked the event space and informed the hotel about the news conference a month ago, and that no permit had been requested during that time. It also reached out to government officials to try to discuss its research plans, it said.

"It's not entirely clear to us if this is an arbitrary decision ... but we are disappointed in the way this was handled," said Nicholas McGeehan, Gulf researcher for the group.

"We came here to talk about freedom of expression ... and to engage with the authorities. They shut us down and prevented us from doing that," he added.

When questioned by ABC News, Hotel Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai general manger Frederic Gitzner reportedly referred questions to Human Rights Watch, saying that "we have explained to the organizer that the necessary permissions were not obtained as per the agreement."

Emirati authorities reportedly had no immediate comment.

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