United Arab Emirates: UAE- Authorities target the families of human rights defenders convicted in the UAE 94 case


On 10 January 2014, the authorities in UAE arbitrarily detained Aisha Ibrahim Al-Zaabi as she tried to leave the country with her 18-month-old son. Al-Zaabi is the wife of human rights defender, Mohamed Saqer Al-Zaabi, who was convicted in absentia in the trial of 94 human rights defenders and activists in July 2013. She is not known to be involved in any political activity and it appears she is being targeted as part of a campaign of punishment against her husband.

Mohamed Saqer Al-Zaabi was sentenced in his absence to 15 years imprisonment. The trial was widely condemned by human rights organizations as being deeply flawed and in contravention of internationally agreed standards of a fair trial. He now resides in exile in the UK.

His wife was arrested at the border with Oman and was separated from her son who was handed over to her father. Her mobile telephone was confiscated and she has not communicated with anyone since that time. It is not known where she is being held and GCHR is deeply concerned for her welfare.

Allegations of torture in the secret detention centres of  UAE have been widely documented including in the trial observation reports of the UAE 94[1] and in appeals by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). [2]

The GCHR expresses serious concern at this continued campaign of reprisals against human rights defenders and their families in the UAE and condemns the harassment and arbitrary punishments being directed against them.

The GCHR urges the authorities in UAE to:

  1. Release Aisha Ibrahim Al-Zaabi forthwith and unconditionally;
  2. Reunite Aisha Ibrahim Al-Zaabi with her infant son;
  3. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Aisha Ibrahim Al-Zaabi and all human rights defenders detained in the UAE,
  4. Desist from the harassment of human rights defenders and their families;
  5. 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, 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 (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.”


[1] For more information kindly follow the links hereunder:  



[2] For more information kindly follow the link hereunder: http://gc4hr.org/news/index/country/2