United Arab Emirates: UAE: Whereabouts of Nasser Bin Ghaith remain unknown as State Security Apparatus continue to target human rights defenders


Over three months since the State Security Apparatus detained academic and human rights defender Nasser Bin Ghaith his whereabouts remain unknown. He is one of the UAE 5 imprisoned in 2011 and tried for “ publicly insulting” UAE officials.

On 18 August 2015 security officers in civilian clothes arrested Nasser Bin Ghaith in Abu Dhabi and searched his home and confiscated some personal items including electronic memory sticks. Since then he has been held incommunicado with no access to a lawyer or to his family. Before his arrest he had spoken out online against the mass killings in Cairo in 2013.

His arrest and detention are part of a trend of focused targeting and harassment of human rights defenders in the UAE. The circumstances of his detention are consistent with previous cases of arbitrary detention and many such detainees have been subjected to torture and there are fears for Nasser Bin Ghaith’s safety.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) believes that his arrest and detention are a direct result of the exercise of his right to freedom of expression and his human rights activities. It believes that this is part of an on-going trend by State authorities to punish, deter and hinder the work of those promoting human rights in the UAE.

The GCHR urges the authorities in the UAE to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Nasser Bin Ghaith as his arrest is solely related to his peaceful on-line activities and disclose his whereabouts;
  2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nasser Bin Ghaith while he remains in detention;
  3. Ensure that Nasser Bin Ghaith is immediately granted access to a lawyer and to his family;
  4. Immediately and unconditionally release and drop all charges against all human rights defenders who are being detained as a result of their legitimate human rights activities;
  5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): (1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.