United Arab Emirates: UAE- Ongoing targeting of human rights defenders, activists, and their families


Human rights defenders and their families continue to be targeted by authorities in the UAE as many remain in detention, while others sentenced in abstentia facing extradition back to the country.

On 7 July 2013 the Court of Cassation of Abu Dhabi, upheld the ten-month prison sentence against human rights defender Abdullah Al-Hadidi. He was sentenced under the new Cyber Crime Law. There is no further avenue of appeal open to him. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) views this as the latest example of the on-going attempt by authorities to silence human rights defenders and to hinder their work. The GCHR issued two previous appeals on the case of Abdullah Al-Hadidi dated 23 May 2013 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/419 and 11 April 2013 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/378.

As regards the UAE 94, it is reported that Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken, Dr. Mohammed Al-Mansoori, Khalifa Al-Nuaimi, and Salim Al-Shehhi were transferred from Alwathba jail to Alrazeen jail where a majority of the UAE94 are currently detained.  It is reported that the visitation rights of those in detention are being violated. Families have been denied visits and have not been allowed to deliver books to those in detention. Often the detainees are not allowed to receive phone calls from their families. It is reported also that some detainees have decided not to meet with their families as a result of the manner in which the visits were conducted, for example they were not allowed to sit in the same room together despite this being provided for in the terms of such visits.

In a continued attempt by authorities to target human rights defenders, the GCHR has received information that UAE authorities have commenced legal preparations for the extradition process against 8 of the UAE94 who were sentenced in abstentia. It is thought that those sentenced in abstentia are living in Egypt and the UK. The GCHR calls on authorities in the UK to ensure that these human rights defenders are not extradited to the UAE, particularly as their safety cannot be guaranteed should they be returned to that country.

The GCHR expresses concern at the on-going targeting of human rights defenders and their families in the UAE. It expresses serious concern at the treatment of the UAE 94 while they remain in detention and the lack of fairness and transparency around their visitation rights. Furthermore the GCHR urges all governments to ensure that any of the 8 UAE94 tried in abstentia are not extradited back to the UAE.

The GCHR urges the authorities in the UK to:

  1. To ensure that that any of the 8 UAE94 tried in abstentia are not extradited back to the UAE. 

The GCHR urges the authorities in the UAE to: 

  1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Abdullah Al-Hadidi and the UAE94;
  2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of those human rights defenders including those comprising the UAE94, and that of their families while they remain in detention;
  3. Guarantee that the UAE94 who remain in detention are granted adequate visitation rights and contact with their families;
  4. 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 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” 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, which provides that “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:

1. To express your concern about the detention of human rights defenders and activists in UAE demanding their immediate release;

2. To urge the authorities in the UAE to immediately stop targeting human rights defenders;

3. 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

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