March 20, 2016. Amal Alamuddin Clooney, writer, human rights activist, 3rd left, listens to the national anthem during the opening ceremony of the International Government Communications Forum in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (The Associated Press)
Advocate and lawyer Amal Clooney told an audience in the Middle East on Sunday that governments around the world should be vocal, consistent, principled and transparent about human rights.
Clooney was speaking at the opening of a government communications summit in the United Arab Emirates. She was a headline speaker at the annual event, which included the ruler of the emirate of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.
“The first piece of advice I would have from my experience is that governments need to be vocal about human rights,” she said.
She said Arab countries are facing “an unprecedented human rights crisis.” She urged that criticism of ruling systems be met with dialogue, not prison terms, and that protests be met with “crowd control,” not bullets.
“My advice to you is not only to be vocal and consistent, but also to be principled in communications about human rights. The fourth suggestion I have is to be quick,” she said. “Governments must be prepared to be transparent and get their message out first.”
Clooney mentioned countries such as Sudan, Iran and North Korea in her 12-minute speech, however she made no specific references to rights abuses in Gulf Arab countries or the humanitarian toll of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, which the UAE is taking part in.
U.N. human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein condemned the “repeated failure” of the coalition to avoid hitting civilians after more than 100 people were killed in an airstrike on a crowded market Tuesday.
The Lebanese-born British lawyer, whose maiden name is Alamuddin, is married to Hollywood actor George Clooney. Last month, the couple met German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the crisis in Syria and met with refugees in Berlin.
Amal Clooney has taken on high-profile international cases, including representing Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohammed Fahmy, who spent more than a year imprisoned in Egypt before he and a fellow reporter from Al-Jazeera English received presidential pardons. She was also part of a legal team seeking greater recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide.
Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.