United Arab Emirates: UAE: Arrest and on-going detention of human rights defender Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi, the Chairman of Islah


Beirut, 24 April, 2012 --  The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information that on 20 April 2012, human rights defender Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Kayed Al-Qasimi was arrested by security authorities in Ras Al Khahima. He is the Chairman of the Society of Reform and Social Guidance (Islah Association), an organization which advocates for reform and whose board of directors was dissolved by the authorities. He is also the cousin of the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.

Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al-Qasimi was reportedly arrested without a warrant and brought to the Governor’s Palace where he is being held in solitary confinement. There is a possibility that he will be transferred to Abu Dhabi.


His arrest comes in the context of the targeting of members of the Islah Association by the authorities in the UAE and is believed to be related to his position of Chairman of the association. Over the past four months many members of the Islah Association were stripped of their citizenship and were subsequently arrested for being in the UAE “illegally” as a result.  See GCHR appeals dated 29 December 2011 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/50, 16 January 2012 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/56 and 12 April 2012 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/118.


On 26 March 2012, Dr. Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabie, another member of the Islah association was arrested. He was released on bail last Tuesday 17 April 2012 despite a court order calling for his release on 15 April 2012. However, according to information received, he has been kidnapped by the security forces and his family remains unaware of his whereabouts and it is suspected that he has been transferred into the custody of the State Security Apparatus. (For further information see GCHR appeal dated 30 March 2012 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/104).


Mr. Nabeel Rajab, director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights said: "Human rights defenders who have been arrested recently in UAE find themselves trapped in a security system that abuses their civil and human rights on daily basis." He added:   "The UAE is failing to meet its responsibilities to protect human rights defenders."


 The GCHR believes that the arrest and on-going detention of Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al-Qasimi is directly related to his human rights activities and the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of association and expression.


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) urges the authorities in the UAE to:


  1. Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al-Qasimi, as GCHR believes that he has been detained solely as a result of legitimate human rights work;
  2. Grant Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al-Qasimi immediate access to his family and lawyers;
  3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al-Qasimi;
  4. 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 Gulf Centre for Human Rights calls your attention to the rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in 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” in particular to Article 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b)To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;”  Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (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 12.2, which provides that “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”.

Please write immediately in English or in Arabic:

 • To express your concern about the  arrest of the human rights defenders human rights defender Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Kayed Al-Qasimi and the total silence of the authorities toward these serious violations;

•  To urge the authorities in the UAE to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Kayed Al-Qasimi;

•   To express your concern and refusal to the severe suppression of the legitimate rights such as freedom of expression, assembly, and association by the UAE authorities of its citizens, in particular the activists.

Please Send Appeals now to:

Vice-President and Prime Minister

H.H. Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum

Office of the Prime Minister

POB 2838



Fax: +971 4 3531974

E-mail: info@primeministre.ae


 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior

 H.H. Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

POB 398

Abu Dhabi


Fax: +971 2 4414938


Minister of Foreign Affairs

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahya

POB 1 

Abu Dhabi


Fax: +971 2 4447766


Minister of Justice

His Excellency Dr. Hadef Jawa'an Al Dhaheri

POB 753

Abu Dhabi


Email: moj@uae.gov.ae

Fax: +971 2 681 5155


 The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.