United Arab Emirates: Join the call to free #FreeAhmed as unfair trial continues of Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor
Prominent human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor has been brought to trial in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after more than a year in detention without charge. Join the campaign to #FreeAhmed in advance of his next court date, believed to be on 09 May 2018, according to local media reports. Mansoor, who was arrested on 20 March 2017, has been languishing in an unknown place of detention.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) received information that Mansoor was put on trial in mid-March 2018 and that the second hearing took place on 11 April. Mansoor has been denied access to a lawyer of his choosing and may be representing himself in court. The exact charges he is facing are unknown. However, following his arrest in 2017, the UAE authorities said in their public statements that Mansoor was accused of using social media websites to “publish false information that harms national unity.” The UAE’s official news agency, WAM, said on the day of his arrest that he is also accused of using social media websites to “promote [a] sectarian and hate-incited agenda;” and “publish false and misleading information that …damages the country’s reputation.”
The statement classified these as “cybercrimes,” indicating that the charges against him may be based on alleged violations of the UAE’s repressive 2012 cybercrime law, which authorities have used to imprison numerous activists and which provides for long prison sentences and severe financial penalties.
Mansoor, a member of GCHR’s Advisory Board and the winner of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, is the most prominent human rights defenders from the UAE.
On the anniversary of his arrest, GCHR and over two dozen other human rights organisations called on the UAE authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, as he has been held solely for his peaceful human rights work. The organisations also urged the authorities to immediately disclose his place of detention. See: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1813
GCHR still has no information about which prison or detention centre the authorities are detaining Mansoor in. In February 2018, the authorities denied any knowledge of his place of detention to two Dublin-based lawyers who went on a mission to the UAE on behalf of GCHR and its partners to locate Mansoor and represent him as his legal team.
In the weeks leading up to his arrest, Mansoor had used Twitter to call for the release of human rights activist Osama Al-Najjar, who remains in prison despite having completed a three-year prison sentence in March 2017 for his peaceful activities on Twitter; as well as prominent academic and economist Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith.
GCHR is concerned about Ahmed Mansoor, Osama Al-Najjar, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith and other detained human rights defenders who have faced poor treatment, including being held in arbitrary detention and solitary confinement for long periods of time before being brought to trial, contrary to international human rights law.
Please join us by asking your government, the UN and the EU to press the UAE authorities to:
● Immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Mansoor as he was arrested and detained solely for his peaceful human rights activities;
● Immediately disclose Ahmed Mansoor’s whereabouts and ensure that he is being held in an official place of detention;
● Disclose the charges against Ahmed Mansoor and allow him to choose a lawyer to represent him;
● Allow international observers including local diplomatic representatives into the court on 09 May and to subsequent trial sessions;
● Allow UN and EU experts, or international NGOs access to visit Ahmed Mansoor, as well as other human rights defenders, who are detained in UAE prisons;
● Pending his release, ensure that Ahmed Mansoor is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, including prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement which can amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and
● Pending his release, ensure that Ahmed Mansoor is treated in line with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including by giving him regular access to his family, as well as to any medical care he may require.
Join us! Email your message or Tweet using the hashtag #FreeAhmed to the following:
- Vice-President and Prime Minister HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, firstname.lastname@example.org / @HHShkMohd
- Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, email@example.com
EU and UN representatives:
- European Parliament Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights Pier Antonio Panzeri, @AntonioPanzeri
- UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Michel Forst, @ForstMichel
Foreign countries with diplomatic representatives in the UAE:
- United States State Department, @StateDept
- United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Human Rights & Democracy department, @FCOHumanRights
- Canada Foreign policy, @CanadaFP
- French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, @francediplo_EN