Blogger remains in UAE jail seven months after completing his sentence

Expression

The Emirati authorities continue to violate freedom of expression. Human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers remain in detention for exercising their rights. Several recent cases of such violations are detailed in this section. 

On 9th November 2017, Swiss journalist Serge Enderlin and cameraman Jon Bjorgvinsson were arrested and detained by Emirati authorities, as reported by Reporters Without Borders. The journalists were in the country to cover the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum and were arrested while filming in a market on the outskirts of the city. They were held for 50 hours in separate locations and subjected to lengthy interrogation sessions.

On 20th October 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for the immediate release of Jordanian journalist Tayseer Salman Al-Najjar, who has been detained in the UAE since December 2015. On 15th March 2016, a UAE court sentenced Salman Al-Najjar to three years in jail and fined him 500,000 dirhams for insulting the state in a Facebook post. According to the Working Group, “the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Salman is arbitrary, as it resulted from the exercise of the rights or freedoms guaranteed under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

The Working Group also expressed grave concern over legal provisions used to prosecute Al-Najjar, namely article 29 of the 2012 Cyber Crimes Law, which has been used previously to target other journalists, bloggers and human rights activists. The Working Group stated that the provision “could not be justified as reasonable limitation in a democratic society, and “that the vagueness of the provision and their overly broad application, render the law itself at odds with the relevant norms of international law on the administration of criminal justice”.

Blogger Osama Al-Najjar also remains in prison seven months after completing his sentence because the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court decided to extend his detention at the request of the Public Prosecutor on the pretext that he represents a “threat”.