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The government opened criminal cases against more than 65 persons, convicting at least 22, for trafficking-related offenses against women and children.
In December, President Khalifa announced, and the Supreme Ruling Council endorsed, a decision to indirectly elect half of the consultative FNC.
In July, the government enacted a law, immediately enforceable, criminalizing the participation of children under age 18 in camel racing.
During the year, the government rescued, rehabilitated, and repatriated 1,034 underage boys from camel training and racing.
There were credible reports that government officials discriminated against prisoners with HIV by not granting commuted sentences or parole that other prisoners with similar records had received.
Police in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stated that NGOs and the International Committee of the Red Cross have access to observe prison conditions if requested; however, there were no reports of any requests for such visits during the year.
The Council selects a president and vice president from its membership; the president, in turn, appoints the prime minister and cabinet.
In November 2004 the Council selected Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi Emirate, as head of state for a five-year term.
Representatives from the General Women's Union (GWU), a local organization partially funded by the government, regularly met with female prisoners, helped them financially, and paid airfare, when necessary, to repatriate noncitizens after their release. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, there were reports that the government held persons in official custody without charge; and that the government charged individuals but denied them a preliminary judicial hearing within a reasonable period.
The law permits indefinite incommunicado detention without appeal, and in one case the government held a prisoner incommunicado for several months at least.