United Arab Emirates: Human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor on hunger strike to protest poor prison conditions and sham trial


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is extremely concerned about the health of imprisoned human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, after receiving reports from local sources who say he been on hunger strike for over three weeks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He is protesting poor prison conditions and his unfair trial which led to a ten-year prison sentence for his human rights activities.

Mansoor is believed to be currently held in Al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi, where he is kept in isolation. A source told GCHR that he is being held in “terrible conditions” in a cell with no bed, no water and no access to a shower. His health has deteriorated greatly and he is in bad shape.

Mansoor was convicted under the 2012 Cybercrimes Law on 29 May 2018 of “insulting the 'status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols' including its leaders” and of “seeking to damage the relationship of the UAE with its neighbours by publishing false reports and information on social media.” He was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, followed by probation, and a large fine, and this sentence was upheld by the appeals court on 31 December 2018. Mansoor’s trial was widely viewed as a grossly unfair process. The European Parliament, United Nations Special Rapporteurs, and others have all called for his release.

On 20 March 2017, Mansoor was arrested in the middle of the night from his home where he lives with his wife and four young sons. He is the 2015 Martin Ennals Laureate, and a member of the advisory boards of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.

GCHR is concerned about the health and well-being of Ahmed Mansoor, and other detained human rights defenders, who have experienced poor treatment and torture in prison, contrary to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules). According to the Mandela Rules, every prisoner “shall be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness;” and “with a separate bed, and with separate and sufficient bedding which shall be clean when issued, kept in good order and changed often enough to ensure its cleanliness.”

GCHR calls on the UAE authorities to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Mansoor and other human rights defenders who were imprisoned solely for their peaceful human rights activities;
  2. Pending release, ensure that Ahmed Mansoor, and other prisoners of conscience are treated in line with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including being provided with proper medical care and sanitary prison conditions; and
  3. Allow UN experts or international NGOs access to visit Ahmed Mansoor, as well as other human rights defenders, who are detained in Emirati prisons.