United Arab Emirates: UAE Sliding into a police state- Arrest of HRD Saleh Al-Dhufairi, while others remain in detention and are at risk of ill-treatment


 Beirut, 07 May, 2012 --  The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses its deep concern at the arrest of human rights defender Saleh Al-Dhufairi and the ongoing detention of other human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates. Saleh Al-Dhufairi, is the general manager of The Holy Koran Foundation, an Islamist organization, and has been critical of the UAE security apparatus.

On 29 April 2012, ten men dressed in civilian clothing, who identified themselves as security officials, took human rights defender, Saleh Al-Dhufairi, from a mosque in Ras Al-Khaimah. The perpetrators produced no arrest warrant and Ras Al-Khaimah police have said that they were not aware of any arrest having taken place. In March 2012, Saleh Al-Dhufairi was detained for "provoking strife" following his criticism of state security services on Twitter for interfering in the lives of citizens. Last week he was reportedly questioned at the state security prosecution department in Abu Dhabi on issues related to his previous detention. His current whereabouts remain unknown.

The arrest of Saleh Al-Dhufairi comes in the context of an increase in repression by UAE authorities against human rights defenders and pro-reform activists. Over the past two months, nine members of the Reform and Social Guidance Association (Al-Islah), a NGO which has been engaged in peaceful political debate and discussions in the UAE for many years, have been arrested and remain in detention.

The GCHR has issued previous appeals concerning the arrests of the nine men, which took place between 26 March and 20 April 2012. 

On 20 April 2012, Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi, the chairman of Al-Islah was arrested without a warrant. According to information received, he is being held without a detention order or charge, in the palace of the ruler of the Ras Al-Khaimah Emirate, who is his cousin. The ruler has reportedly told family members that the basis of the detention relates to a “family matter.” See GCHR appeal dated 24 April 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/128).

On 9 April 2012, the authorities detained Dr. Ali Hussain al-Hammadi, Dr. Shahin Abdullah Al-Hosni, Hussein Munif Al-Jabri, Hassan Munif Al-Jabri, Ibrahim Hassan Al-Marzouqi and Sheikh Mohammad Abdul Razak Al-Sediq when they presented themselves at an Abu Dhabi office of the Interior Ministry in response to a summons served on them. In December 2011, all six human rights defender had their nationalities revoked and their identity papers, including their national identity and health insurance cards, confiscated by the authorities.

They were reportedly arrested and detained due to their “illegal” status, when at the office of the Interior Ministry they refused to sign a document stating that they were in the country illegally and giving them two weeks to seek another nationality in order to legalize their presence in the country.

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).  The six defenders are being held at Al-Tehama deportation centre in Abu Dhabi where, it is feared that, they may be ill-treated. They have been denied access to their lawyers.

Earlier in 2011 the authorities had also confiscated the identity papers of human rights defender Ahmed Ghaith Al-Suwaidi, who was arrested and detained on 26 March 2012. He was initially detained at Al-Shihama centre before being transferred to the State Security Jail, where torture is reportedly carried out systematically.

On 26 March 2012, former judge and university professor, Dr. Ahmed Al-Zaabie, was arrested and was initially held at Al-Rahba Police Station in Abu Dhabi. He was granted bail on 15 April but has not been released. For further information see GCHR appeal dated 30 March 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/104).

The GCHR expresses serious concern over the recent arrest of defender Saleh Al-Dhufairi and the fact that his whereabouts remain unknown. The GCHR reiterates its concern over the on-going detention of Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al-Qasimi, Dr. Ali Hussain Al-Hammadi, Dr. Shahin Abdullah Al-Hosni, Hussein Munif Al-Jabri, Hassan Munif Al-Jabri, Ibrahim Hassan Al-Marzouqi, Sheikh Mohammad Abdul Razak Al-Sediq, Ahmed Ghaith Al-Suwaidi, and Dr. Ahmed Al-Zaabie. The GCHR believes that the arrest and on-going detention of the ten human rights defenders are directly related to their human rights activities and the exercise of their legitimate right to freedom of expression and association.

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

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release defenders Saleh Al-Dhufairi, Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi, Dr. Ali Hussain Al-Hammadi, Dr. Shahin Abdullah Al-Hosni, Hussein Munif Al-Jabri, Hassan Munif Al-Jabri, Ibrahim Hassan Al-Marzouqi, Sheikh Mohammad Abdul Razak Al-Sediq, Ahmed Ghaith Al-Suwaidi, and Dr. Ahmed Al-Zaabie as GCHR believes that they have been detained solely as a result of their legitimate human rights work;
  2. Immediately disclose the whereabouts of defender Saleh Al-Dhufairi;
  3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of the ten human rights defenders;
  4. Grant the ten human rights defenders immediate and unfettered access to their lawyers and families;
  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 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 ten human rights defenders and the total silence of the authorities toward these serious violations;

•  To urge the authorities in the UAE to immediately and unconditionally release the  ten human rights defenders;

•   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.