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International Centre for Justice and Human Rights

Emirati authorities ban family visits for prisoners of conscience

Geneva, 19 October 2016

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) has been informed that the UnitedArab Emirates (UAE) authorities have been preventing families of detainees, amongst which are prisoners of conscience and human rights activists, from seeing and contacting them for a period of over two weeks, as a way of sanctioning the detainees. Some of the prisoners’ relatives were denied visits for nearly three weeks without justification.

In fact, the prison authorities have consistently abused the detainees’ rights, as well as their families’, by repressing their rights and banning any visits even though some families travelled for long distances under difficult conditions, to be banned from meeting their jailed relatives.

The ICJHR would like to remind that the families’ right to visit their relatives is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Emirati Federal Law on Regulating Penal Institutions, the United Nations (UN) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, which provides that “the Prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits”.

Therefore, given the human rights violations committed against the prisoners of conscience and their families, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights urges theUAE government to:

  1. Enable the families of the detainees of their right to visit their jailed relatives, which is a fundamental right guaranteed by international standards. 
  2. Order the immediate release of those imprisoned by Emirati authorities, including prisoners of conscience, political dissidents, human rights activists and bloggers, and refrain from undermining their right to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as their right to freedom of assembly and association, in addition to depriving them from their fundamental rights and freedoms.
  3. Provide an independent and impartial judicial supervision of the UAE prisons and accept the prisoners' grievances regarding the violation of their rights and open a serious investigation about these grievances, as well as to hold accountable all those involved in these violations. In addition, grant the prisoners their full right to have family visitsand to meet a lawyer.
  4. Authorize the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders to visit the Emirati prisons and detention centers in order to inspect the UAE government’s conformity with international standards when dealing with prisoners of conscience.
  5. Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two OptionalProtocols, the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and theInternational Convention for the Protection of All Persons from EnforcedDisappearance.


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