Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken, 52, is a prominent human rights lawyer and law professor from Dubai (UAE). He has a LLM and PhD in Constitutional Law from the UK’s University of Warwick.
Dr. Al Roken is a member of the International Bar Association, a former president of the UAE’s Jurists Association, and a founding member of the Bridging the Gulf Foundation. He was a professor of constitutional law at UAE University and has written numerous books and journal articles on human rights and legal matters. He received the Al-Karama Award for his human rights activities in 2012 and he was a finalist for the 2014 FrontLine Defenders Award, won numerous awards in his field of work in the UAE, and was an advisor to the government on specific legal matters.
In 2011, he contributes in the petition to the UAE’s President calling for the right to vote and for full legislative powers to be given to parliament.He defended activists, and others who have faced human rights violations, often pro bono. He also defended the “UAE 5”.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken was a target of government harassment, intimidation, and official surveillance for years because of his work.He was arrested and detained several times since 2006, his passport was confiscated and he was placed on a travel ban, barred from giving public lectures at university, from writing in national newspapers and from giving interviews to national media.
In July 2012, he was subjected to enforced disappearance for eight months.Security forces arrested Dr. Al-Roken as part of a wave of mass arrests that began in March 2012. The government initiated the campaign of arrests after a group of prominent activists, including Al-Roken, sent a petition to the president calling for legislative reforms. Security forces detained him while he was on his way to a police station to report the disappearance of his son and son-in-law amidst the government’s crackdown. The day after his arrest, the UN called on the UAE to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders, citing Al-Roken’s arrest and noting, “National security is increasingly being used as a pretext to clamp down on peaceful activism.”
While in detention, security forces subjected Dr. Al-Roken to torture and degrading treatment. They kept him in solitary confinement without furniture or personal items, and denied him access to his lawyer. In March 2013, the UAE opened proceedings against the 94 people arrested in the government’s mass arrest campaign.
In July 2013, Dr. Al-Roken was sentenced to 10 years’ (in Al Rezin prison, one of the worst reputation and symbol of deplorable conditionsimprisonment) and three years’ probation. He was stripped of his license to practice law. The trial failed to meet international fair trial standards. Mohammed and his co-defendants were kept in solitary confinement and denied access to a lawyer before trial. Many told the judge they were tortured, and “confessions” obtained through torture were used as evidence in court.
In November 2015, Al Rezin authorities installed loud speakers in each block to play extreme loud propaganda music that praises the ruler of Abu Dhabi. Due to the noise, Dr. Al-Roken woke up at night and had a panic attack and fainted on the floor. Despite ringing the emergency bell, no guards immediately responded despite the fact that cameras were in each cell. Doctors have eventually discovered that he had high blood pressure and ear’s infection caused by the unbearable noise. After this, he was transferred to a solitary confinement and was forbid from visitors.