United Arab Emirates: Three human rights defenders and a researcher added to government’s terror list


On 13 September 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cabinet issued ministerial resolution number 83 of 2021 adding 38 individuals and 13 entities to the government's terror list. The list includes three human rights defenders and a researcher - Ahmed Mohammed Al-Shaiba Al-Nuaimi, Mohammed Saqr Al-Zaabi, Hamad Mohammed Al-Shamsi and Saeed Nasser Al-Tenaiji.

The four Emirati citizens, who live in exile, are members of a group known as the UAE 94 and were sentenced in absentia in 2013 to 15 years in prison after a sham trial that lacked minimum international standards for fair trial and due process.

Ahmed Al-Shaiba Al-Nuaimi, a human rights defender, works as a consultant in educational guidance, and a specialist in applied educational psychology.

Mohammed Saqr Al-Zaabi, a judge and human rights defender, is the former president of the Emirates Jurists Association.

Hamad Mohammed Al-Shamsi, a human rights defender, is one of the founders and president of the Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center (EDAC).

Saeed Nasser Al-Tenaiji, a researcher and online activist, was the director of several schools in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. He has authored many books and research, and currently heads the Gulf Center for Studies and Dialogue.

The UAE 94 group includes a number of prominent human rights defenders, judges, academics, and students. On 02 July 2013, the Abu Dhabi Federal Supreme Court convicted 69 of the 94 defendants, including the eight who were convicted in absentia, and acquitted 25 of them.

On 27 August 2013, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) jointly published an important report with other allied human rights organisations, entitled “Criminalising dissent: UAE 94 trial deeply flawed.

It seems clear that the recent decision of the Council of Ministers to label the four citizens – who are known for their peaceful and legitimate activities in the field of human rights and research – as "terrorists", is another attempt by the UAE government to criminalise the work of human rights defenders and people who express opposing opinions. The accusation of terrorism has occurred while the authorities continue to intimidate them and their families by various means, contradicting international principles of human rights.

At the same time, the UAE's open pursuit of the INTERPOL presidency in 2021 comes within its firm desire to use international platforms to perpetuate its miserable record in the field of human rights and to achieve its goal to intimidate human rights defenders and activists at home and abroad.

At a time when the opening of the Dubai Expo approaches in October, and the UAE’s is a candidate for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2022, human rights groups had expected to see some true tolerance and openness from the Emirati authorities.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the inclusion of the names of the four Emirati citizens in the recent terrorism list issued by the UAE Cabinet, as it is a clear attempt to undermine them and an attempt to put a stop to their various activities in exile.

GCHR calls on international mechanisms, especially the United Nations and Western governments, to take the necessary measures to render this decision void of any legal consequences or harassment that may cast a dark shadow on the lives of the four men and their families, and threaten their ability to work or travel.