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HRW: Louvre Abu Dhabi 'tainted' by worker abuse

HRW: Louvre Abu Dhabi 'tainted' by worker abuse
From Al Jazeera - November 10, 2017

A human rights group has described the new Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum as being "tainted" with gross rights violations committed against migrant workers on the building site.

The immense project, which took 10 years to build to the tune of $1bn, was officially inaugurated by French President Emmanuel Macron. It will open to the public on Saturday.

Benedicte Jeannerod, the France director at Human Rights Watch, said while many consider the museum to be a "technical and aesthetic feat", the building holds a more unpleasant back story.

"It has been accomplished at the cost of human suffering in a country whose rulers appear to still widely despise human rights and suppress any critical voice," she said.

Worker rights abuse

Before the rights group was banned from entering the country in 2014, HRW published three reports on construction sites of Saadiyat Island, including one on the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The reports documented a range of human rights violations against migrant workers, who make up more than 90 percent of the United Arab Emirates' private workforce.

The most recent report, published in February 2015, shed light on "unsafe working conditions leading to workplace accidents and deaths, passport confiscations, appalling living and housing conditions, extremely low wages, or sometimes non-payment of wages".

Moreover, these workers are held hostage to "Kafala", the notorious sponsorship system that grants employers extreme powers over their employees. Workers have been arbitrarily deported for exercising their right to strike and barred from re-entering the UAE.

The new Louvre

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