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Geneva, on January 18, 2019


On January 14, 2019, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) and other human rights NGOs and prominent figures called for the release of human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor in an open letter launched by ICFUAE.


Ahmed Mansoor was arrested on March 20, 2017 and held in secrete detention. His arrest caused a stir among the human rights organisations and even within the UN. In fact, Ahmed Mansoor was one of the few activists to provide NGOs and UN experts with valuable information regarding the human rights situation in the UAE. After the intervention of UN experts, the authorities disclosed his location but he remained detained in very poor condition with very limited contact with the outside world.


In May 2018, after more than one year of pretrial detention in poor condition, Ahmed Mansoor was sentenced to ten years in prison for his postings on social medias denouncing the human rights violations in the UAE. He appealed the sentence before the Federal Supreme Court which confirmed the ten-year sentence on December 31, 2018, ahead of 2019, which was proclaimed year of tolerance by Sheikh Khalifa.


The Centre thus co-signed the following open letter to draw the attention of the international community to Ahmed Mansoor’s case and call on the UAE government to immediately release him and put an end to all violations against him. The UAE government should be strongly reminded of its obligations to protect all its citizens and grant them equal exercise of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

The text of the open letter:

We, the undersigned, call on the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately and unconditionally release prisoner of conscience Ahmed Mansoor.

Mr Mansoor is an internationally acclaimed human rights campaigner, the 2015 winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and a member of both the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. In May 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “defaming” the UAE on social media. An appeal to overturn this sentence was rejected on 31 December 2018. Mr Mansoor’s arrest and the charges against him relate solely to the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

Mr Mansoor was detained without charge for over a year before trial and denied the right to appoint an independent lawyer. Sources close to him confirmed that he was held in solitary confinement for at least the first six months of his detention, a treatment human rights experts consider to be cruel and inhumane.

The EU parliament and multiple human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have repeatedly called for Mr Mansoor’s release and UN human rights experts have described his case as “a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE”.

As a member of the UN human rights council, the UAE has an obligation to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights for all its citizens. We call on the UAE government to uphold this obligation with respect to Mr Mansoor by ensuring his immediate and unconditional release.

Stephen Fry Actor and presenter
Noam Chomsky Professor
Michael Mansfield QC Barrister
Peter Tatchell Human rights campaigner
Caroline Lucas MP Green, Brighton Pavilion
Ben Bradshaw MP Labour, Exeter
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP Labour, Brighton Kemptown
Andy Slaughter MP Labour, Hammersmith
Martyn Day MP SNP, Linlithgow and East Falkirk
Tom Brake MP Liberal Democrat, Carshalton and Wallington
Christine Jardine MP Liberal Democrat, Edinburgh West
Joe Odell The International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE
Carles Torner PEN International
Gus Hosein Privacy International
Julia Legner MENA Rights Group
Radha Stirling Detained in Dubai
Rachid Mesli Al Karama
Safwa Aissa International Campaign for Justice and Human Rights
Jonathan Emmett Children’s author
James Mayhew Author and illustrator
Nicola Davies Author
Amanda Craig Author and critic
Laurence Anholt Author
Anne Booth Author
Dylan Calder Director, Pop-up Projects
Fadi Al-Qadi Human rights, civil society, advocacy and media expert


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