United Arab Emirates: UAE- Families of detainees demand the immediate release of the 63 human rights defenders and activists- some have had their bank accounts suspended as a result


On 8 November 2012 approximately 100 relatives of 63 detained human rights defenders and activists gathered outside the Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi calling for the immediate release of the detainees and for their right to a fair trial to be respected. This gathering was the largest to date in a number of similar gatherings, which have been taking place over the past days outside the country's highest court, as family members of those in detention call for their release.

Since the gathering took place the authorities have reportedly suspended the bank accounts of some of the detainees, their wives, children and relatives as well as of their companies, with several individuals being effected in total. It is feared that this development might cause financial complaints against the detainees and their families, besides leaving wives and children with no source of income.

In the last few days, disturbing reports of the detainees' conditions have come to light. It is alleged that they have been subjected to physical and psychological torture and are being held in solitary confinement and in cramped cells. Furthermore they have been denied access to legal representation. On 6 November 2012, the Public Prosecutor granted visitation rights to some activists and their families who were allowed to meet at the State Security Prosecution Office in the presence of officials from the Prosecutor's Office.

The on-going detention of human rights defenders and other political activists is stark evidence of the deterioration of the human rights situation in the UAE despite the fact that the UAE ratified the Arab Charter of Human Rights, and joined the United Nation's Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment this year. It is reported that State officials have, without any basis, attempted to justify the crackdown stating that those targeted are organizing a foreign plot to overthrow the government.

In November 2012 the number of peaceful activists detained has reached 63, following the arrest on 13 October 2012 of vice-president of the UAE Student Union and human rights defender Mansoor Al-Ahmadi. Amongst those detained are sitting judge, Mohamed Al-Abdouly, two former judges, Khamis Al-Zyoudi and Ahmed Al-Za'abi, and two prominent human rights lawyers Mohamed Al-Mansoori and Mohamed Al-Roken. The whereabouts of those detained reportedly remain unknown. Last year an Emirati member of Human Rights Watch's advisory committee and a leading human rights defender in the country, Ahmed Mansoor, was detained for more than seven months. A travel ban remains in force against him and he has been subject to a public smear campaign and threats against his life.

The situation in the UAE has deteriorated to such an extent that on 26 October 2012, the European Parliament issued an urgent resolution condemning the UAE authorities' ongoing serious crackdown on peaceful dissent that advocates of moderate reforms in the UAE, expressing its solidarity with the detainees and their families and calling on the UAE to put a halt to an ongoing campaign of repression and intimidation.

Between 30 October and 3 November 2012 British lawyer Victoria Meads undertook a mission to the UAE, coordinated by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), in cooperation with the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Human Rights Watch http://gc4hr.org/news/view/266. The goals of the mission were to investigate human rights violations, including a crackdown on human rights, which has led to the arrests of the 63 activists and enforced disappearances.

The GCHR expresses serious concern at the on-going detention of 63 activists and harassment of their families and calls on the authorities to immediately release them as they are being detained solely due to their peaceful human rights activities.

The GCHR urges the authorities in the UAE to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release all 63 human rights defenders and activists who are being held as a direct result of their legitimate human rights work;
  • Immediately disclose the whereabouts of all human rights defenders that are being detained;
  • Grant the 63 human rights defenders and activists in detention immediate and unfettered access to legal representation;
  • Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of the 63 human rights defender and activists who remain in detention;
  • Guarantee in all circumstances that all 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, recognises 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 (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): "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 detention of the 63 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
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