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2015 Annual Report

front page report

International Centre for Justice and Human Rights

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR), Non-Governmental Organization, was created in May 9, 2014. It took a form, which is governed by the articles 60ss of the Swiss Civil Code. Its main activities have links with the Gulf Area, mostly, the United Arab Emirates.

The ICJHR aims to :

  • Work in respect of the freedoms and human rights based on the regional and international mechanisms of human rights in the fight against all forms of violations
  • Achieve justice, independence of the judiciary and respect for the role of the defense and preservation of the dignity and citizen’s rights
  • Work towards the abolition of any torture practices, harassment and persecution of all human rights
  • Ensure the effective implementation of the provisions guaranteeing freedoms and respect for international standards
  • Strengthen relationship with the components of civil society who are fighting for human rights at the international level
  • Inform the international community, Europeans and the Swiss civil society about human rights violations in some parts of the world

Foreword

The number of human rights violations recorded in the UAE has reached shocking levels, with increasing numbers of detentions in cases relating to freedom of speech and expression, and increasing criticism from international human rights organisations regarding the direct violations of human rights. Such human rights violations relate to foreign workers and the sponsorship system adopted in the Emirates, as well as the treatment of children and women, and the treatment of prisoners.

Those that had hoped that the UAE authorities would allow for half of the members of the Federal National Council to be elected in 2006, whilst the remainder of the Council remain appointed, were disappointed. A portion of the Emiratis, alongside many political and legal analysts monitoring the developments of the situation in the Arab World, thought that the UAE would adopt a push towards real democracy in the Gulf. However, hopes for reform were soon dashed when the security forces intensified their crackdowns on reformist Emiratis and civil society activists. Starting with the arrests, unfair trials, and then pull the nationalities of some of the activists, mostly belonging to the Association of Reform. They were detained into secret prisons by State security, before appearing in sham trial where they were sentenced to a term of imprisonment between seven years and fifteen years after a trial, which lacks the conditions of justice and fairness. But the security apparatus went even further when it arrested and tried the lawyers, Dr. Mohammed Al-Rokon, Mohamed Al-Mansoori and Salem Al-Shehhi, after having done their duty in the defence of the detainees from the Reform Association.

These punishments were faced on account of their calls for an elected National Council and the establishment of an authority which would monitor the Government and ensure the foundations of democratic political life, which would be real rather than a mere formality.

Named by some as the Arab Spring, the winds of change that swept over the Arab World-speaking in late 2010 during the popular protests in Tunisia, which brought about the end of the rule of the former president Zine El Abidine Bin Ali - led the way for popular revolutions in other countries, toppling several Arab regimes. However, despite this, the Gulf largely remained unaffected and the UAE, in particular, worked to oppose such winds of change in the Arab world.

Strangely, the UAE acted as the spearhead of the Arab political regime that opposed the Arab revolutions, providing huge financial aid from its own budget aid in support of counter revolutionary parties in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Matters only became worse after the UAE issued a governmental decree in November 15, 2014 to classify a number of organisations and groups as terrorist organisations. The groups encompassed a range of NGOs and groups in the UAE, the Gulf, the Arab world, Europe and the USA, showcasing how the UAE is ruled by an exclusionary political line that doesn't accept other points of view.

Political trial under legal cover

It has become apparent that the prosecutions, whom the leaders of the Islah Association and those close to them from other countries (be they Egyptian, Syrian, Libyan or Tunisian) encountered, were part of a plan constructed by the UAE authorities to end the call for reform. The authorities firstly began by ensuring that none of those calling for reform were present in any public or social organization by removing the reformists from the Preserving the Arabic Language organization, the Teachers Union and Lawyers Union, as well as those in higher education organizations. Then, all those with ties to the Islah Association, even if loosely, had their small businesses cut and were prevented from attaining positions of influence.

Islah members were forbidden from travelling, obstructed at airports and forbidden from outside programmes. In addition to this, the Government and private organizations warned professional and trading organizations about them in order to weaken their professional and business practice in the commercial market. This weakened the practice of their personnel legally and as well as in media, all in an attempt to isolate them from society.

2014 and escalating violations

2014 has seen a rise in coordinated response to opposition, activists and all those who criticize the government's policies. We recorded at the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights numerous cases of enforced disappearances, unfair trials and harassment and ill-treatment in prisons and systematic torture and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, and other abuses, which is a violation of the UAE Constitution and a retreat from the commitments made by the United Arab Emirates in front of the UN human Rights Council in 2013.

Conditions of detention

Human rights and the International Stand

Despite international appeals, the Emirati authorities paid no heed to any of these appeals. They didn’t face any real pressure to enforce change, illustrating the oversight of the UAE case. International human rights organizations have all issued statements calling on the UAE authorities to stop the torture and forced disappearances, and to release the prisoners of conscience.

Resin Prison

Resin prison, or referred to by UAE activists as “UAE's Guantanamo”, has housed businessmen and activists working in the field of education, freedoms and rights linked to the Islah Association.

The political prisoners in Resin prison in the UAE suffer from malnutrition and severe deterioration of their health. The families of the detainees reported in 2014 that some prisoners often lose consciousness due to malnutrition and abuse. Since their incarceration, political prisoners of the jail Resin were subject to a series of persecutions:

  1. Systematic searches without any respect for prisoners’ decency and dignity
  2. Prevention of praying in groups during the week or on Friday
  3. Solitary confinement in inhumane conditions, without beds or blankets for days
  4. To charge non-Emirati police, who do not speak Arabic and who are violent with prisoners and their families, especially during visits
  5. Ban visits to disabled relatives of prisoners
  6. The prison guards confiscate clothes or belongings of prisoners
  7. Many officials of the Ministry of the Interior refused to meet with prisoners or to hear their complaints to escape legal liability
  8. The policy of starvation by giving little food to political prisoners and forbid them to buy from canteen
  9. Block access to newspapers and information
  10. Continuous Insults and humiliation

In some cases, the prison management went so far as to block the windows with rocks in some cells in order to prevent light from entering, resulting in no ventilation and unsafe conditions. They also took to banning the additional food a prisoner may purchase.

Conditions in prisons are very harsh. In January 23, 2014, the guards of Rezin Prison put the prisoner Tarek ALKatan, in a very dirty cell, with only the possibility to sleep on a cold concrete made floor. Despite his deteriorating health conditions, he required an urgent knee surgery. AlKatan was released from hospital with both hands and feet cuffed.

In January 24, 2014, after receiving an order from the State security services, 30 soldiers from Nepali origins attacked six detainees in a small place after they refused to be searched and inspected in private areas of their bodies. The soldiers used physical force with the detainees and cuffed their feet and hands behind their backs. Several of the detainees were injured. The 6 detainees were: Justice Mohamed Al Abdouli, Dr.Mohamed Al Mansoori, Counsellor Ali Al Kandi, Lawyer Salem Al Chehi, Najib Al Amiri and Ahmed Al Koubaisi.

Solitary confinement

Solitary confinement is a cruel, inhuman punishment as a form of torture and an inhuman violation of prisoners' rights. The isolation of prisoners seems to be a political will of prison authorities, which use it in an arbitrary manner to humiliate political prisoners and to condemn them to silence. The aim is to punish, demoralize and humiliate them.

In May 2014, Dr. Mohamed Errokon was put in solitary confinement. He's a professor of law at the UAE University and lawyer for a large number of prisoners of conscience and former president of the Association of Jurists in the United Arab Emirates. Security services of the State forbade him any contact with his family in order to isolate him from the outside world. Her elderly mother has been banned from visiting him when she came from far (about 200 km) and in the usual day of the visit. Prison authorities have put forward Nepalese guards to prevent her from entering.

Such treatment may lead to the emergence of several cases similar to the case of Issa Serry, who is suffering from the deterioration of his mental health, and because of the suffering and the torture, he endured in solitary confinement at the state security apparatus, which lasted for months. He didn’t complain about anything before his arrest but after the violations he endured in his solitary confinement, he appeared during the trial that his condition wasn’t normal. Especially during the trial, he was speaking in incomprehensible things, and the lawyer asked treatment of him and his situation has improved. But after the prison authorities had stopped the medication, and his family raised letters to officials in this regard, but nobody listened.

The two political prisoners of conscience, Ahmed Al-hajji Qobaisi and Salem Mousa al-Halyan Tuniji, have been put in solitary confinement in May 2, 2014. The Emirati authorities have adopted this measure to punish these prisoners for no apparent reason. Both Ahmed Al-Hajji Gobaisi from Abu Dhabi and Al-Halyan from Ras al-Khaimah, have been in jail for a long time. They were transferred to individual cells, like other previous cases.

The prisoner of conscience, Khalid Fadl Ahmed Jassim was put in September 26, 2014 in solitary confinement simply because he asked one of the officers for a place to stand outside the wards after officers ordered them to leave. He was sentenced to stay in solitary confinement until September 28, hands and legs cuffed, causing him severe pain at the level of his hands, his fingers and difficulty in moving the hands.

Solitary confinement has damaging effects on mental and somatic health on those subject to it especially that the measure often continues indefinitely. Often called "white torture" isolation has serious psychological and physical effects. It's a form of psychological torture that violated the Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading" and the Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment."

Torture and Ill-treatment

After being arrested for unknown reasons, Bashir Al-Sabah, Refaat Haddagah, Tahir Kalvat and Mohammed Al-Aradi, Four of the ten Libyan detainees were released by UAE authorities in December 27. During their detention, the released persons were subjected to torture and ill-treatment. They were deprived of sleep for long periods preceding the investigation, as they were throughout the period of their detention in isolation from the outside world completely. This case shows grave violations of human rights in the emirate detention, whether citizens or foreign nationals in the Emirates, and all crimes against humanity in international human rights law. It also shows the degrading treatment meted out to prisoners, the systematically torture in secret cells and the isolation from the outside world.

The Emirates 94 group has been exposed to systematic punishment in prisons for months in flagrant violation of their rights. Ill-treatment of detainees has led to a state of emaciation and yellowing. These violations are:

  1. Denial of going out in the daytime, which led to a lack of vitamin D and a yellowing state accompanying it. Thus enjoined to give them extra vitamin D tablets every night
  2. Clear starving of the detainees because of severe food shortages. Especially because most of them are suffering from diseases than is necessary to provide the amount and quality of food, which didn’t happen
  3. Lock them in their cells from 5 pm to 10 am in darkness hardly ever see, or move their fingers. Exposing them to psychiatric illness like madness

In March 2014, we saw the arrest of activist Osama al-Najjar, the son of the prisoner of conscience, Hussein al-Najjar. Osama was detained in March 17, 2014 and was held in a secret location where he has been tortured for four days with sharp objects such as beating on his legs until the lifeblood drained out and was taken to the hospital. They prevented him earlier from receiving necessary medical care. Confinement has been extended to him three times. Osama has been known with its activity on social media and his tweets about the ill-treatment of his father and the rest of the prisoners of conscience in Resin jail.

Arbitrary detentions

The human rights activist, Yousef Obaid Al Zaabi, is still subject to arrest, despite a verdict of innocence in his case. The security forces arrest him in December 12, 2013 a few hours after his statement on CNN on the issue of the young American, "Qasim Chezana". Despite passing on trial in May 26, 2014 and a verdict of acquittal, Security forces still detain him, without clear justification and he was not released despite the passage of nearly a year since the verdict.

Enforced disappearances

Ahmed Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Al-Moula was arrested in May 1, 2014 in Dubai. He's in Wathba Prison now after months of enforced disappearance. He had received a phone call from the police of Al-Qusais inviting him to come to the police station and arriving on the scene, the security forces arrested him without any clear reasons. They took him to unknown place and kept him in enforced disappearance for months. This arrest is an episode of a series of activists and defenders of human rights' forced disappearances, without any respect to the individual rights and their families, and in violation of their expression right.

Security guards of Al-Qusais arrested on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 Hussein Badr Al Abdullah Al-Bahri after searching his house and terrorizing his children. They transferred him to Abu Dhabi for unknown reasons.

On the same day, Abdullah Al-helou was arrested in the similar circumstances of Badr Al-Bahri. Witnesses reported that his car has been parked in front of Al-Qusais police station for several hours. He was driven by State security officers to his home and was searched for several hours before he was arrested without any explanation and without knowing what the charge against him or where he was taken and arrested.

Both were transferred to Abu Dhabi in the early hours of April 23. They were detained in a secret prison in Abu Dhabi, and such prisons enable the State security apparatus to take confessions from prisoners through torture and violation before being transferred to the State prisons.

In another case, Dr. Amer Al-Shawa was subjected to kidnappings from the airport of Dubai and has disappeared for consecutive months. The Dubai Police airport arrested Amer Al-Shawa in October 2, 2014, without a clear charge and has jailed him for a period of 5 months in an undisclosed location without informing his family about the reasons and the place of his detention. After significant pressure, Amer was suddenly released by the Emirati authorities in February 13, 2015.

In June 27, 2014, the border police arrested two Qatari nationals, Yusuf Abdul Ghani Ali Al-Mulla et Hamid Ali Mohammed Ali Hamadi, while crossing the border to enter the territory of the United Arab Emirates on board of their car for the purposes of tourism. Their families have been unable to contact them or know the whereabouts or the reason for their arrest, despite all their efforts.

In January 13, 2014, Emirati security forces hold Ahmad Massad Madawy, an Egyptian citizen resident in the UAE. Before they took him to the Egyptian security services after eight months of forced disappearances and without the knowledge of his family.

Over than 100 foreign people disappeared in UAE between 2013 and 2014 without any clear reasons.

After the UAE's security apparatus arbitrarily arrested ten Libyans since August 2014 and forcibly hid them, they released four of them: Bashir Al-Sabah, Refaat Haddagah, Tahir Kalvat and Mohammed Al-Aradi, in December 2014 without any charges.

This continuing arbitrary enforced disappearance and detention in secret places is a flagrant violation of the rights of detainees and the rights of families.

Situation of families and relatives

Harassment of families

The Emirati authorities are enforcing collective punishments on human rights activists and political opponents who have been arrested and those who are residing outside UAE. Pressurizing families and parents is part of their systematic policy designed to force dissidents to abandon their demand for reform and opposition to the Government. Such harassment includes preventing them from completing higher education in State universities; subjecting them to humiliating body searches when visiting detainees; preventing them from private visits; dismissing them from their jobs; permitting only one visit a week during the morning period only. Such harassment was witnessed by Aisha Hussein Al-Jabry who was deprived from her right to university by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education. The elderly mother of Dr. Mohamed Errokon was banned from visiting him when she came from far (about 200 km) and in the usual day of the visit. Prison authorities put forward Nepalese guards to prevent her from entering.

Starving and maltreatment of wives of prisoners of opinion

The families of prisoners of conscience suffer of collective punishment policy practiced by the UAE authorities to make pressure and intimidate their families. There are numerous cases, in which the women and the girls are targeted in livelihood and subsistence.

Disrupt visits to prisoners and communication

The wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of prisoners are continuously exposed to ill-treatment during the visit to the Resin prison such as prevention of visit without prior communication, so the family takes a distance not less than two and a half hours to find the visit cancelled when arriving to the prison. Following families has been blocked: family of Abdul Salam Darwish (3 of his children are living with autism and other neurological diseases) travelled in the intense heat without medical care in high risk and then barred from the visit.

During the visits in Eid al-Fitr in August 2014, wives, children and mothers were forced to await their turn to visit in the car where the temperature isn't less than 45°c, the waiting period was between an hour and a half. Air conditioning in such heat stopped working due to the long duration and high temperature. Among the visitors, the mother of the detainee Khaled Al-Shaiba, which is older than 80 years, including the daughter of detained Fouad Al-Hammadi who suffers from diabetes and young children, didn’t endure such a hard situation. The detainees’ daughters pursuing studies abroad have been deprived of communicating for years with their fathers because the prison authority suspended international communication.

Act against terrorism: a threat to families

The ratification of the anti-terrorism law, which contains clauses that can expose the wives and families of prisoners of conscience to a real danger. This law prohibits insulting or criticizing the State institutions, considering it as an attack to its reputation. Families are no longer able to disclose any violation practiced by the UAE authorities or communicate it to public opinion. Then, they can lose all their rights and the rights of their children and their detained husbands.

Violations against children of detainees and human rights defenders

The UAE authorities shed collective sanctions on political opponents who were arrested and exiled as part of a systematic policy designed to put pressure on families and parents to abandon their demand for reform and opposition to the government and tiring them. Among these violations, which we were informed by the families of the detainees and opponents are:

  • Prevent the completion of graduate studies in public universities
  • Humiliating inspection during a visit detainees
  • Prevent private visits
  • Expelled from job
  • Allow them to visit once a week during class
  • A travel ban and renew passports for narrowing the pressure on the father

Among the cases, we mention Aisha and Ahmed Hussein Al-Jabri, children of Hussein Al-Jabri prisoner of conscience sentenced under the group of "94 Emiratis". The members of his family have been subjected to harassment and numerous grievances began to separate from his work and his son to prevent him from travelling and then deny his daughter from pursuing university studies.

Many opponents are subjected to enforced disappearance before trial or release and remains without parents and children connect for the duration of disappearances. The authorities don’t inform them about the places of detention and the reasons for the detention. Children are living, because of these practices, a state of fear and anxiety, which affect their psychological state and their studies and prevent them from the right to the information.

In April 22, 2014, Qusais security forces arrested Hussein Badr Al-Abdullah Al-Bahri. We have learned that he was arrested during an inquiry into the police department. After his arrest security forces led him to his home in order to be searched, where they terrorized his children and they put the boys and girls in separate rooms guarded by security men and women. Then took him to an unknown place before the eyes of his children and their shock.

This is a flagrant violation of article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) about "detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death (including death arising from any cause while the person is in the custody of the State) of one or both parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family unless the provision of the information would be detrimental to the well-being of the child." While the authorities often deny knowledge of forcibly disappeared father and leave, sons and family in wait and worry for long periods.

Travel ban and refusal to renew passports

The article 29 of the UAE Constitution states that the freedom of movement and residence is guaranteed to citizens within the limits of the law. But in reality, the authorities don’t prevent only the dissidents to travel but also their wives and daughters. We learned that since the arrest of a UAE 94 group, the UAE authorities have taken arbitrary measures against wives and daughters of prisoners and activists living outside the country.

In January 2014, the security forces in the UAE kidnapped the wife of Mohammed bin Saqr Al-Zaabi, and his child aged less than two years, in order to arbitrary prevent them from travelling out of the Country. The son was delivered to his grandfather, at a border station between UAE and Oman. The aim was to prevent them from travelling, joining their father, and bringing the family together.

Refusing to renew the passport of Muza Abdul Rahman Al-Hadidi because of the political affiliation of her father, sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and detained within the UAE94 group.

NOF Al-Hammadi (20 years old) was banned from traveling in June 2014 and informed by the management of the Sharjah airport; the State security service prevents her from travelling. She’s the daughter of Fuad Mohamed Al Hammadi detained since March 13, 2013 and sentenced to 10 years ' imprisonment.

All these testimonies show the invalidity of the State about the guarantee given by the national legislation to freedom of movement and prevent any form of restriction of this freedom and the State says about "prohibition of the confiscation of passports, as it is a right that cannot be confiscated except by judicial decision." This indicates that the security forces restrict the freedom of movement to many wives and children of detainees and activists without judgment or legal decision. This is a violation of article 15, paragraph 4, of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women: "States parties shall accord to men and women the same rights with regard to the law relating to the movement of persons and freedom to choose their residence and domicile."

Women’s rights

Women’s Rights in UAE

Although the UAE is working to ensure equality between men and women with regard to their rights and duties, the reports highlight the issue of prostitution, which is prohibited by law, and is particularly prevalent in Dubai, as well as the spread of transnational prostitution networks. The Government policy has been unsuccessful in addressing this phenomenon or the phenomenon of human trafficking. The state of human rights in the UAE indicating that, although the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 governing personal affairs in the Country, some of its statutes discriminate against women.

The law states that Emirati women have the right to work “without being deemed disobedient” and the right to complete their education; it added that, "despite the existence of shelters and hotlines to help protect women, domestic violence remains a pervasive problem. The penal code gives men the legal right to discipline their wives and children, including through the use of physical violence. The Federal Supreme Court has upheld a husband's right to 'chastise' his wife and children with physical abuse."

The status of women in the UAE and double standards

The evolution of the female presence in several areas and in legislation and perceptions is noted, but these realizations seem to be an exterior banner to fascinate the world while on the ground the Government continues to apply a double standard policy in dealing with women. Women who agree with the policies of the Government are privileged and get rights. Women who's claiming political reforms are considerated as second-class citizens, and the don't have the right to a dignified life. So, to ensure that the achievements of the Government don't remain ink on paper, we believe that it should take some concrete measures to improve the status of women in the UAE and the achievement of equality between women and between women and men.

Banned from higher education

Women's education and lacks precision in determining the areas of strengthening the presence of women in the various stages of education, especially higher education, and the proportion of females at this stage. We have reached in our Organization that the security authorities directly intervened in the work of these institutions and deprived a number of girls to continue their education because of their political affiliation. It's a discrimination against them and the UAE pledged before the Human Rights Council in 2013 to continue their efforts to further promote the enrollment of girls in secondary and higher education and the participation of women in the professional and political area (recommendation No. 128-100).

UAE Ministry of Higher Education deprived Aisha Hussein Al-Jabri, the student and daughter of the prisoner of conscience Hussein Al-Jabri, from her right to university. Although many interventions and an appeal of her brother, Mohammed Hussein Al-Jabri, he received a response from the Ministry informing him of the rejection of the appeal without giving reasons and closes in front of him any other way to register his sister.

The daughters of the prisoner of conscience Fouad Hamadi, Nouf Al-Hamadi and Najla Al Hammadi, are brilliant girls in their studies. The first one, Nouf Al-Hamadi was the first national-level in 2012 but she was deprived of her scholarship allocated by the State for the best students and prevented from registering in public universities, forcing her mother to register her at the University of Al-Ain away from her home and live into a residency. During her studies, she met many inconveniences due to her activities on Twitter and attacks on her honor, which led her to stop studying and suffer of depression and isolation. We have learned that the harassment continued and we recorded in 2014 that the authorities prevented her from travelling within a Umrah trip.

The second one, Najla Al Hammadi, asked for a scholarship to study nuclear chemistry, a UAE’s new specialty. She successfully passed all tests for University and impressed her teachers. But, she was told to wait for the approval of the security services, which decided to reject the request. Najla lost the right to scholarship and specialize in a field she liked despite completing the requirements. Sharjah authorities printed in 2012 a book containing the names of achievers and winners in the UAE, pulled the names of the two sisters from the list. By depriving these girls from college, the UAE had been violated several articles of the UAE constitution, the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) and the UN Convention on the rights of the child (CRC).

Child’s rights

The rights of the child in UAE are still violated. Some of the models of violations that we were informed by human rights defenders in the UAE and abroad which belong to the children of prisoners and exiles who were tried in the case of the "UAE 94" in July 2013 after an unfair trial after demanding political reforms in the Country. We also offer some observations on the report of the State and other supplemental information. We have some cases that confirm these practices contrary to the rights of the child.

Violations against children of detainees and human rights defenders

The UAE authorities shed collective sanctions on political opponents who were arrested and exiled as part of a systematic policy designed to put pressure on families and parents to abandon their demand for reform and opposition to the government and tiring them. Among these violations, which we were informed by the families of the detainees and opponents are:

  • Prevent the completion of graduate studies in public universities
  • Humiliating inspection during a visit detainees
  • Prevent private visits
  • Expelled from job
  • Allow them to visit once a week during class
  • A travel ban and renew passports for narrowing the pressure on the father

Freedom of expression

In 2014, online censorship is getting extensive and the UAE government seems to continue its efforts to silence dissent and restrict its rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly. Activists in social networks and journalists, especially foreign journalists working for UAE, were its victims.

Internet

In January 2014, the Emirati authorities released Chizan Kacem, an American citizen arrested in April 2013 for have sharing a sarcastic video on Internet. Later, the Vice-president admitted that this arrest was a mistake.

Freedom of press

In April 1, 2014, The National Newspaper in Abu Dhabi hired a Ugandan journalist, Yasin Kakande, because of the publication of his story relating the situation of migrant workers. He published a book, which described his story as an African journalist living in the Emirates. This one’s entitled: The ambitious Struggle: An African journalist’ journey of hope and identity in a land of migrants. The Emirati editor-in-chief of the National, Mohamed Al-Otaiba abusively fired him. Afterwards, he was expelled from UAE for life.

In May 20, 2014, UAE authorities prevented the print of a Newspaper, the New York Times, because of its content. Indeed, inside, there was an investigative report detailing the conditions of workers building.

Attacks against international organizations

UAE authorities don’t hesitate to exercise pressure on all human rights work even if it is the initiative of foreign organizations or dignitaries. The UAE has tried, in 2014, to prevent international organizations from exercising their work and access to the country.

In May 30, 2014, the UAE authorities forbade a British Lawyer, Victoria M., to enter the Country for life because she tried to obtain information about the European Union decision criticizing the UAE in 2012.

In January 22, 2014, the UAE cancelled a conference, which the international NGO, Human Rights Watch, attempted to organize in order to launch its annual report for the year 2014. The conference was to be hold in Dubai.

In January 24, 2014, the Emirati authorities denied Sarah Leah Whitson, a Human rights Watch’s director in charge of MENA region, the right to enter the Country because of her criticisms of the UAE.

In February 15, 2014, the UAE expelled eight Kuwaiti students from a University because they tried to form a students’ union at the campus.

   Law against terrorism

UAE Presidentapproved in August 21, 2014 a new law on "anti-terrorist" crimes, which is an update of the 2004 Act. The new law adds to a series of restrictive laws in UAE, which seeks to suppress freedom of expression and the use of terrorism as a pretext to lay siege to the opponents and repress them. In a preliminary reading of the contents of the law, we believe that the publication of these texts seems to be a criminalization of terrorism, but in fact, it's a restriction of freedom and intimidation of voices advocating justice and rights.

The first striking thing is the lack of a clear definition of terrorism, which gives a margin to the legislature to interpret the articles of the law as he pleases, and opens the door to violations of human rights. Indeed, the wording of the law contains vague terms that can be defined in different ways. This could lead to generalize sentences for dissidents and human rights defenders under the pretext of "threat to national security or attack those in power," as is the case in other countries that use the anti-terrorism laws to justify repressive policies and undermine the freedoms.

Then, the worst in the new law concerns articles which state that any person who attacks or threatens or criticizes or threatened citizens or government officials or deputies or the head of state or the ruling families, face severe penalties amounting to life imprisonment or the death penalty. The sanctions also affect those who commit "terrorist crimes" outside of the UAE. It also allows the Council of Ministers to define a list of organizations and individuals who pose a threat to the State without mentioning the criteria to be adopted for the inclusion of an organization or a person. These measures allow the Government to call anyone who opposes its policy of terrorism to restrict freedom of expression and block the road to political reform.

We express our deep condemnation of these laws that take the fight against terrorism as a pretext to stifle the voices calling for freedom and democracy in the UAE. There’s a real fear of the confusion that might occur between the criminalization of terrorism and the criminalization of dissents.

We invite international organizations and human rights defenders to pay attention to the consequences of the ratification of the new anti-terrorism law, such as pressures on human rights activists in UAE, the involvement of activists and peace organizations in the check terrorism and the criminalization of their activities in defense of human rights

Recommendations

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) notes with great concern the cases of flagrant violations of human rights in the UAE. The Centre calls the Emirati authorities to ensure all their international obligations including the respect of its commitments to the Human Rights Council. Therefore, the UAE should do a series of immediate steps, including:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release of all prisoners of conscience held in the UAE for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association
  2. Stop abuse and systematic torture and comply the conditions of detention with international standards
  3. Respect UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Arab Charter on Human Rights, to all of which it’s a party and the withdrawal of reservations to article 20 Torture about communications
  4. Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and really allow independent international bodies to regularly visit the UAE places of detention to assess the conditions of detention and make recommendations for their improvement
  5. Ensure that all complaints or allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are promptly, independently and thoroughly investigated
  6. Ensure that the victims of torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and other human rights violations have access to effective remedies
  7. Ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty receive a fair and public hearing by independent and impartial courts in accordance with international human rights standards, including by having the right to appeal the judgment before a higher court or tribunal
  8. Accession to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearance and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  9. Ensure the rights of political prisoners to adequate food, treatment, medical care and families’ visits
  10. Ensure the prisoners’ families and relatives, all of their rights to travel, work, study and protection
  11. Respect child’s rights in the spirit of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  12. Respect women’s rights in the spirit of UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

 
 
 

Annual Report PDF