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

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The voting for this poll has ended on: August 2, 2018

 Palais des Nations Geneve

Geneva on 11 December 2017

On the occasion of the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which falls on 10 December each year, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) monitors the commitment of the United Arab Emirates to the principles of this Declaration. It is well known that this Declaration is a significant document that constitutes the basis for international conventions and charters governing international human rights law. The commitment of States to this Declaration is an obligation to respect the principles and values ​​of human rights in their universal dimension, especially for member states of the Human Rights Council. However, given the human rights situation in the UAE, we find many violations of the Declaration, including:

  • Articles relating to freedom of belief, expression, organization and association (1, 2, 18, 19, 20 and 21)

In 2017, we identified a series of new violations of freedom of expression, which are considered as an infringement of the above mentioned articles. On March 20, 2017, the UAE authorities arrested human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, after breaking into his family home in the Emirate of Ajman in the UAE, on charges of expressing dissenting opinion on the social networking space and his advocacy of human rights activists. He was also subjected to several human rights violations by the UAE authorities including spying on his mobile phone, preventing him from traveling and imprisoning him within the well-known case of the” UAE5” on charges of offending state governors in 2011.

On March 29, 2017, the Federal Supreme Court of Appeals convicted the doctor and academic Mr. Nasser Ben Ghaith to ten years imprisonment for posting a series of tweets in which he criticized the authorities.

  • Articles relating to personal safety, enforced disappearance and physical and moral integrity (including articles 3, 5 and 9):

The authorities of the United Arab Emirates arbitrarily detain political activists, lawyers and bloggers in a systematic way and deprive them of their liberty and personal safety. They also put them, after raiding their homes and arresting them, in secret detention centers where they will be prevented from contacting a lawyer, having family visits and making any administrative or judicial grievance, in breach of the Set of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.

The UAE's intervention in the conflict in Yemen and the evidence of its secret prisons, where brutal forms of torture and ill-treatment are practiced, are a clear and serious violation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture ratified by the UAE in 2012. In addition, there are frequent testimonies on the systematic practices of torture in the UAE prisons, most notably the prison of Al-Razeen or the so-called “Guantanamo” of the UAE.

In May 2017, Al-Razeen prison administration stripped out the detainees of all their clothes and searched them in a humiliating manner in violation of their privacy, which led Amran Radwan to go on a hunger strike on 25 May 2017 in protest against this degrading treatment.

The authorities of the United Arab Emirates have also deported Mosaab bin Ahmed Abdul Aziz, in November 2017, to the Egyptian authorities, who transferred him to a secret detention location and denied him any access to a lawyer or family visits. Indeed, this is a grave violation made by the UAE authorities to the provisions of article III of the International Convention against Torture which forbids deportation if there are serious reasons to believe that he is at risk of torture.

  • Articles on fair trial guarantees and the legality of crimes and penalties (7, 8, 10 and 11)

The UAE authorities did not provide fair trial guarantees for political activists, jurists and bloggers. The judiciary and judges are subordinate to the executive authority in their naming, promoting, transferring and disciplining. The composition of the Supreme Judicial Council is also dominated by representatives of the executive authority.

UAE authorities employ non-Emirati judges who are recruited from more different countries, so they can be easily manipulated and threatened to terminate their contracts in case they fail to comply with the instructions of the executive authority.

Besides, Emirati officials have deliberately drafted the articles of criminalization and punishment in a general and ambiguous way, without precise wording, which conforms to the rules adopted in democratic societies when restricting freedoms, most importantly: necessity, proportionality and legitimate purpose, to pursue activists and bloggers as in the case of the Federal Law on Terrorist Crimes, the Federal Law on Cyber crimes and the UAE Penal Code and other laws.

  • Right to privacy and prohibition of deprivation of nationality (arts. 6 and 15)

The UAE's legislation lacks safeguards against deprivation of nationality and do not prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of nationality. The President of the United Arab Emirates controls the granting of citizenship and its arbitrary withdrawal without any guarantees or supervision by an independent judiciary.

Emirati law does not grant, to those who have been stripped out of their nationality, the right to resort to judicial appeal against decrees of withdrawal of nationality as determined by international standards. Indeed, Emirati authorities have intervened by Federal Law No. 16 of 2017 to amend Federal Law No. 17 of 1972 on Nationality and Passports and expressly forbid, through Article 20, any judicial appeal against the decrees of nationality withdrawal and thus protect it from judicial review. The new amendment allows for the return of nationality but by a federal decree and not by appeal to the courts.

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights recalls that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a symbolic and legal value and it is the most important document in the International Bill of Human Rights, which consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and four covenants and protocols that have not yet been ratified by the UAE, despite their commitment to do so during the UPR in 2013, including:

• International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

• International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

• The First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the submission of complaints by individuals.

• The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aimed at abolishing the death penalty.

The ICJHR therefore calls on the Government of the UAE to:

  1. Promptly ratify all of these covenants and protocols and respect their obligations.
  2. Make a positive cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms for greater justice for victims and put an end to the serious violations of freedom of expression.
  3. Accept all the visit requests submitted by eight United Nations bodies and committees to examine the situation of human rights defenders and that of the prisons as well as to investigate cases of torture, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and all other cases of human rights violations in the country.