Smear campaign launched by the Emirati authorities
29, January 2013 It appears that 'national security' has been used as a pretext by the Emirati authorities to stifle dissent and repress all activists asking for democratic reforms and respect for human rights.
28 January 2013 - Today, the human rights record of the United Arab Emirates will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council as the situation in the country continues to deteriorate. On this occasion, the undersigned organisations call on Human Rights Council member-states to urge the United Arab Emirates to put an end to the current crackdown against peaceful human rights defenders and political activists and to honour its commitments as a newly elected member of the Human Rights Council to “uphold[s] the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” (UN General Assembly resolution 50/251 para. 9). (Joint action)
The Emirati authorities have since launched a smear campaign against the detainees and their families using state-run media. The individuals are accused by local media, known to be close to the authorities, of being part of a local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and of attempting to create a military wing aimed at establishing an Islamic state in the United Arab Emirates. Families of a number of those detained have also had their bank accounts frozen, leading to understandable stress, beyond that created by the detention of their loved one.
Although some of the detainees are members of Al-Islah (the Reform and Social Guidance Association), a non-violent political movement advocating for political reforms, the other detainees are jurists, law professors at university, lawyers and human rights defenders held solely due to their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. .
In addition to the 66 peaceful activists detained, other citizens were arrested arbitrarily by the Emirati security services, which brings the total number of people arbitrarily detained to 93, including 12 Egyptian nationals.
Attacks on Human Rights Defenders
In addition to the ongoing detentions of two prominent human rights lawyers, Dr Mohamed Al-Roken and Dr Al-Mansoori, Ahmed Mansoor, one of the UAE5 referred to above, has been subjected to physical assaults at least twice over the past nine months. These attacks are accompanied by a well-organized smear campaign launched against him, including statements by officials claiming that he is an Iranian spy in addition to innumerable threats against him on social networks. He is also unable to travel as the authorities refuse to return his passport.
The use of travel bans, the stripping of nationalities and the disbanding of rights organizations are all methods used by the Emiratis authorities to silence the voices that are calling for reform and respect for public liberties.
In November 2012, Federal Decree No.5/2012 on combating cyber crimes was adopted. This law poses a serious threat to the freedom of expression and assembly of peaceful activists as it provides a definition of online activities which could be used to limit the work of activists who use the internet to express their opinion. The law stipulates penalties of imprisonment on any person who may create or run an electronic site or any information technology means, to deride or to damage the reputation or the stature of the state or any of its institutions. Our organisations fear that the “fight against cyber-crimes” could be used as a pretext to repress freedom of expression and imprison activists, just as the “fight against terrorism” often has been.
Torture by members of the State Security forces remains a concern, with further allegations being documented as recently as September 2012, such as the cases of Ahmed Al-Suweidi, Abdulelah Al-Jadani and Musab Khalil Abood, which leading human rights organisations including the undersigned denounced. In addition, other individuals arrested in the current crackdown, including Dr Al-Roken's son and son-in-law, have been tortured.
Your organisations are concerned at the large number of unfair trials in the country, beyond the crackdown described above. Numerous individuals continue to be arbitrarily detained without charge, forced to make forced confessions, and in some cases convicted without receiving the minimum guarantees of a fair trial.
Discrimination against the Bedoon community
Although the UAE affirms that efforts to resolve the situation have been made since mid-2008, by facilitating the granting of a nationality other than Emirati nationality, in order to then apply for a residence permit in the UAE, this practice is counter-productive. One of the only countries who is willing to grant nationality to members of the Emirati Bedoon community are the Comoro Islands, after the impoverished island state received large sums of money from the UAE in 2009. However, once individuals take the necessary steps to adopt Comorian nationality, they are often threatened with deportation. Numerous Bedoon remain in retention, waiting for their supposed deportation to the Comoros.
International community condemns the human rights violations committed by the UAE authorities
On 17 July 2012, as the second wave of arrests and detention of peaceful activists was just starting, OHCHR's spokeperson Rupert Colville called the Emirati authorities “to guarantee that human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without fear of reprisals and urge them to release those who have been detained for peaceful exercise of their fundamental human rights”.
The dire human rights situation in the UAE has also been highlighted by a strong resolution  by the European Parliament, which condemned the situation, calling it as a “crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists”. It called for “the unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and activists including human rights defenders and calls on the authorities of the United Arab Emirates to ensure that detainees deemed to have broken the law be brought before a judge, be charged with a crime and be provided with the legal assistance of their choosing."
The undersigned human rights organisations therefore urge the authorities to:
1.Release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience and activists including human rights defenderss or ensure that detainees deemed to have broken the law be brought before a judge, be charged with a crime and be provided with the legal assistance of their choosing.
2.Halt all persecution of human rights defenders and those peacefully expressing their opinions, including On-Line activists. Immediately release and expunge the convictions of those convicted for expressing their opinion peacefully and Ensure that Federal Legal Decree No. 5 for 2012 on combating cyber crimes is in full conformity with relevant international norms namely the right to freedom of expression and association.
3.Take all necessary measures to ensure that torture and ill-treatment ceases in all places of detention; that all cases of torture be investigate by impartial and independent authorities; and that torturers be held accountable for their crimes.
4.To ensure that all trials meet international fair trial standards, including the full independence of the judiciary, and that all those detained arbitrarily are released as quickly as possible.
5.To end to discrimination against the Bedoon community, including in the application of its nationality law.
6.Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and activists in UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
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Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
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