United Arab Emirates: UAE- Torture of Osama Al-Najjar confirmed as ill-treatment of detained UAE94 continues


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information confirming that 25-year old, human rights defender, Osama Al-Najjar has been subjected to torture. The torture took place at a secret detention centre over four days before he was transferred to Alwathab jail in Abu Dhabi. He was violently arrested on 17 March 2014 and the GCHR issued an appeal on his case on 20 March 2014 (for further information see http://gc4hr.org/news/view/610).

The State Security officials, who arrested him, hit and blindfolded him before bringing him to the secret detention centre. On arrival there, they took him to an interrogation room where they hit him and used plastic covered wires to beat his legs. He was subjected to freezing temperatures from the air conditioning. He was handcuffed and at times shackled.  He began to bleed from his leg, where he recently had surgery, and was eventually brought to the doctor when he could no longer stand. He was then detained in solitary confinement for four days during which time he was subjected to long and violent interrogations on five occasions. He was only permitted to return to his cell for food and prayer.

The charges made against him include belonging to Al-Islah, offending the State via Twitter , instigating hatred against the State via Twitter and spreading lies about the torture of his father, Hossain Al-Najjar one of the UAE94 who is currently serving an 11-year jail term for his human rights activities.

The news about the torture of Osama Al-Najjar comes in the context of on-going allegations of the inhumane and degrading treatment of the prisoners in Alrazeen jail, where most of the UAE94 are being detained.  Such treatment includes, confiscation of their clothes, interruption of communication with relatives, transfer between cells, refusing them access to books, exploiting prisoners during prayer time, placement in solitary confinement and a reduction of visiting times.

The GCHR expresses serious concern over the allegations of torture outlined above against Osama A-Najjar and those detained in Alrazeen jail and further expresses urgent and serious concern for their physical and psychological health. The GCHR believes that their arrest, detention and on-going ill-treatment is solely related to their peaceful and legitimate work in the defence, promotion and protection of human rights.  

The GCHR urges the authorities in the UAE to: 

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Osama Al-Najjar as his arrest is solely related to his peaceful on-line activities;
  2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Osama Al-Najjar and all the UAE94 while they remain in detention;
  3. Grant Osama Al-Najjar immediate access to the medical attention he requires;
  4. Ensure that thorough, impartial and independent investigations are opened in relation to the allegations outlined above with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with international law and standards;
  5. Immediately and unconditionally release and drop all charges against all human rights defenders, including the UAE94 who are being detained as a result of their legitimate human rights activities;
  6. Guarantee in all circumstances that on-line activists and all human rights defenders in the 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 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (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 (1 and 2): (1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (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.