Wednesday 27.9.2017 in Latest Developments in United Arab Emirates Country Page
A new report from the International Campaign for Human Rights in the UAE released in September 2017 highlighted the restrictions on freedom of expression in the country, stating that “government censorship and advanced cyber surveillance in the UAE means that freedom of expression is routinely violated”. The report also drew attention to the fact that “online content relating to human rights and independent news outlets is heavily monitored and censored”.
According to Human Rights Watch, in early August 2017 two Singaporean nationals were arrested at a shopping mall in the UAE and sentenced to one year in prison "for attempting to resemble women". They were deported three weeks later. According to the statement released by Human Rights Watch, “laws that criminalize people on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression violate the right to freedom of expression, protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. The statement called upon the UAE authorities to “cease all arrests on the grounds of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation and to release all other detainees who have been arrested, sentenced, or are awaiting trial on these grounds”.
During the first week of September, civil society organisations renewed their calls for the release of leading Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor six months after he was arrested on 20th March 2017. Hundreds of supporters using the hashtag #FreeAhmed demanded his release, as his arrest and detention are solely a result of his legitimate activities. Since his arrest, Mansoor has been held in solitary confinement and denied access to his family and his lawyer. Mansoor, a board member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), is the leading source of information for international human rights groups and his detention has led to a dearth of information on human rights in the UAE, where freedom of expression is limited. Mansoor's case was also recently highlighted in a submission to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
During UN International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearances - 30th August 2017 - the Emirates Centre for Human Rights drew attention to the cases of enforced disappearances in the UAE, including the cases of Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken, Ahmed Mansoor and Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, whose cases have been previously reported on the Monitor. In early August 2017, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was transferred from Al-Razeen Prison to an undisclosed location and the authorities have refused to inform his family about his whereabouts.