WEB POLL

what do you think about the UPR recommendations to the United Arab Emirates?

Interesting recommendations
25%
I expected better
50%
I don't have an idea
25%
Total votes: 4
The voting for this poll has ended on: August 2, 2018

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Geneva, May 3, 2019

 

Today marks the United Nations 26th World Press Freedom Day. On this occasion, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) remains gravely concerned by the continuing violation of the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press and the Internet in the UAE.

 

Emirati authorities have maintained tight control over the online social platforms. They have arbitrarily blocked numerous websites including the Fars News Agency, the Middle East Eye, the Noon Post, Al Araby, the IMASC website and the website of the Swiss Organization for the Protection of Human Rights. Many other Arab and international websites have been blocked, including the website of Al-Jazeera channel.

 

In the most recent World Press Freedom Index of 2019, the country was ranked in 133rd position out of 180 nations, and in the bottom third of the rankings in the World Internet Freedom Index.

 

Besides, the UAE government has also imposed substantial restrictions on media content according to Decision No. 23 of 2017 on media content. The decision prohibits the publication or circulation of any information that would allegedly insult the system of government, its symbols and institutions, damage the supreme interests of the State and society, harm the national unity and social cohesion or disrespect the State's policies.

 

The United Arab Emirates have become masters of the online surveillance of journalists, who often fall victim to its 2012 cyber-crime law. In recent years, a significant number of journalists, bloggers and human rights activists have been arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression and for criticizing the regime. This criticism is likely to lead to charges of defamation, insulting the State, inciting to sedition, sectarianism and hatred on social media and posting false information to damage the reputation of the UAE.

 

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of the Judges and Lawyers has also confirmed during her visit to the UAE in 2014, the use of ambiguous and vague laws such as the Cyber-Crimes law and their violation of the principle of legality, which would open the door to arbitrary interpretation and abuse.

 

The UAE authorities have also used the Falcon Eye System which focuses on hacking accounts, sites and e-mails on the Internet and spyware on users by acquiring new technologies and working with major companies and experts.

 

Besides, Emirati government commissioned NSA American mercenaries to spy on dissents from inside and outside the country and to set a secret unit in Abu Dhabi under the name of "RAVEN". Tools like RAVEN are used to spy on foes. It happened to human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor prior to his arrest by the State Security Services in March 2017.

 

Journalists and bloggers have been systematically targeted by repressive measures and deprived of their most fundamental rights and freedoms for expressing their opinion on social media.

 

Given the above, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights in Geneva calls upon the authorities of the United Arab Emirates to:

 

•    Immediately release the prisoners of conscience, human rights activists and bloggers who have been arrested and tried in violation of their right to freedom of opinion and expression, their right to liberty and personal security as well as their right to a fair trial.

 

•    Unblock websites and stop all restrictions on the right to freedom of expression on the Internet and avoid using repressive measures to target human rights activists and reformists.

 

•    Amend the law regulating the National Information Council, the law on combating cybercrimes and other laws violating the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press and the right to privacy.

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