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UN experts urge UAE to quash the death sentence against a woman migrant domestic worker

GENEVA (30 March 2017) - A group of UN human rights experts* are calling on the Government of the United Arab Emirates to prevent the execution of a woman who was convicted of killing her male employer and sentenced to death at the end of a trial that failed to reach international standards.

Jennifer Dalquez, who is 30 and from the Philippines, was employed as a domestic worker in Abu Dhabi when she says her employer attempted to rape her at knife point on 14 December 2014. Ms. Dalquez, a mother of two children, says she fought back and in the ensuing struggle her assailant was fatally wounded.

At her trial in May 2015, she was convicted of murdering her employer and subsequently sentenced to death, despite her plea of self-defence. It is reported that a hearing before the Court of Appeal, which was originally scheduled to begin on 27 March this year, was postponed to 12 April because one of the victim's children did not appear in court.

The experts have serious concerns over the conviction and the death sentence passed on Ms. Dalquez following judicial proceedings that did not appear to have fulfilled the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process, and warn that the death penalty if carried out on this basis will constitute an arbitrary execution.

They are most concerned that during the court proceedings Ms. Dalquez reportedly did not have the opportunity for her claim of self-defence to be heard and duly considered, that she was sentenced to death solely on the basis of statements provided by family members of the deceased and that even during the appeals process she did not have any right to be heard and to present her defence.

“Discriminatory treatment by criminal courts, in particular of migrant women who are not provided with interpretation services and quality legal aid, leads to disproportionately severe sentences and seems to be a persistent problem in the United Arab Emirates,” the experts noted.

“Migrant women, employed as domestic workers, are an easy target for gender-based violence, including sexual violence, beatings, threats and psychological abuse, perpetrated with impunity,” they said.

“Governments have a responsibility to prevent such violence, punish the perpetrators and protect migrant and domestic workers from discrimination and abuse,” the experts stressed.

ENDS

(*) The experts:  Mr. François Crépeau, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants ; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice:Alda Facio, Kamala Chandrakirana, Frances Raday, Eleonora Zielinska, Emna Aouij.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work.

They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: United Arab Emirates

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms.  Antoanela Pavlova (+41 22 917 9331 / apavlova@ohchr.org) or write to vaw@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / Mediaconsultant1@ohchr.org)

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