United Arab Emirates: UAE: Security apparatus continue to commit serious human rights violations as the number of detained activists reaches 58


The Gulf Centre for Human  (GCHR) expresses its grave concern at reports that detained human  rights defenders and activists held by the security apparatus – whose numbers have now swelled to 58 – have been placed in solitary confinement and tortured in order to extract forced confessions. GCHR fears that these confessions may be used later against the detainees or in media smear campaigns in order to counter public sympathy with them. These reports, although not yet confirmed because the security apparatus is preventing detainees from meeting their families and lawyers, have not been formally denied by the authorities.

 On 16 July 2012, a major crackdown against human rights activists took place, carried out by UAE security forces. A number of human rights defenders and advocates of reform across the Emirates were arrested under orders of the Public Prosecutor. Their arrests are reportedly linked to unfounded allegations that they are part of an organization that poses a threat to national security.

The security apparatus continued the campaign of arbitrary arrests  between 27th and 31st of August 2012 and detained  activists,  Abdulaziz Harib Al-Muhairi, Ali Abdullah Al Khaja, Ahmed Awad Al-Sharqi, Jamal Awad Al-Sharqi, Abdullah Al-Jabri, Rashid Khalfan Bin Sabt, and Ahmed Salim Al-Zaabi, bringing the number of detainees to 58 human rights defenders and activists.

Reports confirmed that the 58 detained human rights defenders and activists – in contrary to the laws of the land – have not allowed to meet their families and their interrogation sessions have been held without the presence of lawyers, a clear violation of UAE’s international human rights obligations. Other reliable reports confirmed that human rights lawyer Abdulalhamid Al-Kumaiti is defending a total of 41 detainees so far as the security apparatus has imprisoned, threatened or deported lawyers who wish to defend the detained activists. The authorities still continue to target human rights lawyer Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti and because of the large number of his clients, he works under extreme pressure.

According to reliable reports, some elements of the security apparatus, in an unprecedented move, are targeting the female members of the families of detainees and attempting to defame and harass them using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

In another worrying development, the State Security service declared that it has not issued arrest warrants against Rashid Al-Roken and Abdullah Al-Hajeri, who are members of the family of prominent human rights lawyer Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken. Their whereabouts are unknown since their arrest by the security apparatus on July 16, 2012 and they can be considered as victims of enforced disappearances.

The GCHR expresses serious concern at the continuous arrests of human rights defenders in the UAE in particular after the recent reports which suggested that they have been placed in solitary confinement and tortured in order to extract forced confessions. The UAE government should comply with its international legal obligations to human rights and immediately stop its repressive actions against human rights defenders and activists.

GCHR urges the UAE authorities to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release all 58 human rights defenders and activists as GCHR believes that they have been detained solely as a result of their legitimate human rights work, exercising their right to freedom of expression and demanding political reform;
  2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all human rights defenders who are being detained;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in 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, recognizes 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 (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.

Please write immediately in English or in Arabic:

• To express your concern about the arrest of the 58 human rights defenders and activists demanding their immediate release;

• To urge the authorities in the UAE to immediately stop targeting 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
Minister of Justice
POB 753

 Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
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.