Ahmed Mansoor, the Missing Prisoner
Report on the Mission to Find the Most Prominent Human Rights Defender in the United Arab Emirates
On 26 February 2018, two lawyers from Ireland approached the Ministry of the Interior in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an attempt to determine the exact whereabouts of prominent human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, and to visit him if possible. Mansoor, who has been detained since 20 March 2017 for his human rights activities, received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, and is a member of the advisory board of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). He is the father of four young boys.
According to local media reports, on 29 May 2018, Ahmed Mansoor was convicted of various charges and sentenced to 10 years by the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court. He was also fined one million Dirhams (USD $272,294.00) and the court ordered him to be put under surveillance for three years upon his release. Local media have said that Mansoor was convicted of “insulting the 'status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols' including its leaders” and of “seeking to damage the relationship of the UAE with its neighbours by publishing false reports and information on social media.”
Under new laws in the UAE, Mansoor will be entitled to appeal the verdict.
This trial raises a number of concerns. There was no public announcement that the trial would take place. The conviction and sentence were reported in the media, but there has been no public pronouncement or information on the trial itself. While Mansoor was represented by a lawyer, this was only announced in the press after the fact. Furthermore, it appears that the appeal process would be held in the same court. This appears to have been a grossly unfair trial.
Given the widely documented use of torture and solitary confinement by UAE authorities, and the lack of any independent information regarding Mansoor, there are grave and solidly founded fears for his safety. Numerous organisations have expressed concern that he may be tortured and subject to ill treatment in detention. His place of detention remains unknown, although it is believed that he is being held in a prison that belongs to the State Security Apparatus. There is no information on how he is being treated, or whether he is in solitary confinement. This exacerbates the concerns for his well-being and safety.
During the mission in February 2018, to Abu Dhabi, the Irish lawyers approached the Ministry of the Interior headquarters, which is the authority controlling and running prisons. The Ministry referred the lawyers to the police, who are not responsible for prisons. The police then advised them to approach the Al-Wathba prison, which they did, only to be told Mansoor is not being held there. The inability of the responsible authority to provide any information on Mansoor was remarkable given that he has been detained for almost a year at the time of the inquiry.
The mission was mandated by GCHR, the Martin Ennals Foundation, Front Line Defenders, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).
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