A human rights coalition consisting of 14 human rights organizations called on the President of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed, to release prisoners of conscience and opponents in UAE prisons.
In a joint letter, the organizations urged Mohammed bin Zayed to intervene to release prisoners of conscience in the country and view them as an urgent humanitarian situation that requires immediate and direct intervention.
The organizations emphasized that the absence of policies rooted in human rights standards represents a disgrace to the UAE’s international reputation and a threat to its image, which requires stopping all forms of violations against activists and human rights defenders.
The International Campaign for Freedom in the Emirates (ICFUAE) and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) recently launched a petition calling on the UAE government to release human rights defenders.
The petition states that these individuals are serving lengthy and arbitrary sentences in UAE prisons solely for their human rights activities.
The petition highlighted the case of prominent human rights activist Ahmed Mansour, academic Dr Nasser bin Ghaith, human rights lawyer Muhammad al-Roken, Dr Muhammad al-Mansoori, and Dr Muhammad al-Siddiq.
The international campaign urged for the signing of a petition to send a strong message that Emirati human rights defenders are essential to people worldwide and must be released.
A few days ago, the International Center for Justice and Human Rights called on the new UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed, to immediately and unconditionally release prisoners of conscience who have been held in Emirati prisons for years.
In a press release on its website, the Geneva-based Human Rights Center stressed the necessity of ending the harassment suffered by opinion activists and human rights defenders inside and outside the prison in the UAE.
The Center said that this call for freedom includes all opponents, whether at home or abroad, and human rights defenders, who have been imprisoned, persecuted or harassed, for nothing but that they peacefully exercised their right to freedom of opinion or expression and to form or belong to associations.
In this regard, the Center affirmed that freedom of expression is guaranteed in the UAE constitution and enshrined in international human rights laws, including what the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that “every person has the right to freedom of expression… to seek, receive and impart various forms of information and ideas.”
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders also states 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.”
The Center stressed that the new President of the UAE is required at this stage to commit to taking urgent, effective and real steps that reveal his respect for human rights by releasing all activists who were imprisoned on charges related to exercising freedom of expression and allowing the United Nations and other independent bodies to monitor the human rights situation in the country.
“The conditions of the activists have reached a bad level of violations that started from the moment of their arrest and until today, with little change, despite repeated demands to investigate allegations of torture that prisoners were subjected to.”
“Today, there are at least 18 prisoners of conscience whose detention has been extended after the expiry of their sentences. They urgently need to look into their situation and grant them their freedom again,” the Center added.
The Center stressed that the restrictions imposed on the families of detainees that prevent them from obtaining work or medical treatment, or to move freely within the Emirates, or travelling abroad, cannot be accepted, and the head of state urged those to remove them immediately.