Friday 9.6.2017 in Latest Developments in United Arab Emirates Country Page
According to reports from the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights and the Emirati Centre for Human Rights, the authorities at Al-Razeen prison have subjected prisoners to cruel and degrading treatment, such as being strip searched in an insulting and degrading manner. Many of the prisoners being held in Al-Razeen are activists and human rights defenders.
On 30th March 2017, Bin Ghaith was transferred to the maximum security Al-Razeen Prison. Bin Ghaith has had no contact with his family or his lawyer since his transfer and there are serious concerns about his health. According to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was sentenced to ten years in prison on 29th March 2017 for his activism and free expression of opinion. He began a term-less hunger strike in April to protest his detention.
Human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor remains in prison after being arrested on 20th March 2017. As previously reported on the Monitor, human rights groups and United Nations Special Rapporteurs condemned his arrest. On the one month anniversary of his detention, over 90 human rights organisations issued a statement calling for his immediate release.
The courage of human rights defenders in the UAE is also recognised by the international community. Imprisoned human rights lawyer Dr. Mohammed Al- Roken was awarded the Ludovic Trarieux prize for lawyers on 27th May 2017. Dr. Al-Roken was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and was banned from the legal profession in connection with his defence of human rights in 2013. He was “among 69 people jailed on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government following a mass trial criticised by rights groups”.
On 25th May 2017, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that UAE authorities, as well as the Saudi and Bahrain governments, had blocked access to Qatari-funded news websites, reportedly because the Qatari Emir had criticised the U.S. government's foreign policy in remarks he made to the Qatari state news agency. A Qatari government spokesman, however, stated that the news agency had been hacked and that the information was "not true and totally baseless". The CPJ expressed concern over the censorship in the three countries, stating:
"Gulf kingdoms should not hold the public's right to information hostage to a diplomatic spat, and should immediately cease blocking Qatari-funded websites".