United Arab Emirates: GCHR CALLS ON UK FOREIGN SECRETARY TO HOLD UAE TO ACCOUNT AFTER UK CITIZEN ALLEGES SEXUAL ASSAULT BY UAE MINISTER FOR TOLERANCE

19.10.20

PRESS RELEASE

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) today called on the UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to hold the United Arab Emirates to account after UK citizen and Hay Festival Abu Dhabi Curator, Caitlin McNamara, alleged that she was seriously sexual assaulted by UAE Minister for Tolerance, Sheikh Hahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi after raising the case of prominent human rights defender and GCHR Advisory Board member, Ahmed Mansoor.

GCHR Director, Khalid Ibrahim said:

“My heart, and admiration, goes out to Ms McNamara and her family. Waiving her anonymity is a very brave and principled act after such a terrible ordeal. The UAE is not a democratic country. Freedom of speech is not tolerated and women’s rights are severely restricted. Men such as Nahyan believe they can act with impunity.”

Britain has a special relationship with the UAE. The UAE is a former British protectorate and Nayhan was schooled in the UK and attended Oxford University. We, therefore, call on British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to engage the UAE authorities to ensure:

  1. That a full and impartial investigation into Ms McNamara’s allegations is conducted and that justice is served;
  2. The release of Ahmed Mansoor and all prisoners of conscience.

We further call on the UAE government to ratify the United Nations International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

For more information please contact:

Human rights lawyer and GCHR Advisory Board member Melanie Gingell at: +447572 430903 & Executive director of GCHR Khalid Ibrahim at: khalid@gc4hr.org.

NOTE TO EDITORS:

1. Background on Ahmed Mansoor
Ahmed Mansoor has been one of the few voices within the UAE to provide a credible independent assessment of human rights developments in the country. He regularly raised concerns on arbitrary detention, torture or ill or degrading treatment, failure to meet international standards for fair trials, non-independence of the judiciary, domestic laws that violate international law, and other violations of civil rights. He was arrested on 20 March 2017 and was sentenced to ten years in prison where he has been detained in solitary confinement, deprived of books, a bed, and access to health care or fresh air. Ahmed was on hunger strike for half of last year and there has been no news of his physical condition since August 2020. He was a recipient of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights in 2015.

2. UAE’s record on human rights
The UAE imposes severe restrictions on freedom of expression, imprisoning critics of the government, torturing them and holding them in dire conditions. The authorities also subject detainees, including foreign nationals, to arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and enforced disappearance. Discrimination against women is rife both in law and in practice.

3. Britain’s relationship with the UAE
Before the country's formation in 1971, the emirates which currently constitute the UAE were once all part of the Trucial States and independent sheikhdoms allied with the United Kingdom, assigned as British protectorates by the General Maritime Treaty of 1820. The relationship remains very close and London has been referred to as the eighth Emirate.

4. GCHR
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is an independent, non-profit NGO that provides support and protection to human rights defenders (HRDs) in order to promote human rights, including but not limited to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.