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UN concerned about UAE’s listing of 4 human rights defenders on ‘terrorist lists’ without notifying them 

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News briefing 

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice 

Geneva 27 March 2022 

UN experts have expressed their concern about UAE’s inclusion of two human rights defenders, Hamad Mohammed Al Shamsi and Mohammed Saqr Al Zaabi, on terrorist lists; As well as other academics and activists, such as; Ahmed Mohammed Al Shaiba Al Nuaimi, and Saeed Nasser Al Tunaiji. The four individuals currently live in self-imposed exile between Turkey and the United Kingdom.  

Designation without notification: 

The experts explained in a memo sent to the UAE authorities on January 25, 2022, which has not yet been responded to, that they are all part of “UAE 94”, which is a group of 94 lawyers, human rights defenders and academics who were convicted and sentenced to prison in July 2013, for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. 

In their memorandum, the experts referred to previous communications sent to the UAE regarding the case and trial of the UAE 94, amid previous UN calls for the release of the convicted, as well as previous communications about the counter-terrorism law and its application; Including the serious effects on the enjoyment of human rights and basic freedoms in the UAE, amid the neglect and lack of response from the country’s authorities.  

“On 13 September 2021, the UAE Cabinet of Ministers issued the Ministerial Resolution No. 83 of 2021, adding 38 individuals and 13 entities to the Government’s terrorist list, including Messrs. Hamad Mohammed Al-Shamsi, Ahmed Mohammed Al-Shaiba Al-Nuaimi, Mohammed Sagr Al-Zaabi and Saeed Nasser Al-Tenaiji,” the experts said. 

“The decision was ostensibly part of the UAE’s efforts to target and disrupt networks associated with the financing of terrorism and associated activities. The four human rights defenders learned about their terrorist designation only after the Cabinet of Ministers issued its decision, they did not have access to the evidence produced and examined to reach such decision, could not defend themselves and the decision is not subject to appeal,” the experts added. 

Concern about anti-terror legislation in the UAE: 

The experts also drew attention to various forms of harassment and intimidation being reported by human rights defenders, two academics and members of their families; Including travel bans, surveillance, restrictions on education and employment, and the revocation of passports. 

The experts expressed their grave concern about the inclusion of Al Shamsi, Al Shaiba, Al Nuaimi, Al Zaabi and Al Tenaiji on the government’s terrorist lists, which appears to be linked to their legitimate human rights activities and aims to undermine their credibility.  

The experts also expressed further concern about the apparent lack of evidence presented to prove their designation as terrorists, the absence of adequate safeguards to prevent abuse of listing procedures, the lack of clear means to guarantee the rights of persons subject to national listings and sanctions, and the fact that the decision taken by the Cabinet in absentia cannot be appealed.  

UN demands from the UAE: 

The experts called on the UAE authorities to provide the legal basis and evidence used to classify the four human rights defenders, according to a ministerial decision, as terrorists, and whether there is any procedure in place to ensure that the ministerial decision can be appealed or reviewed. 

The experts also called on the UAE to outline the measures that have been taken to ensure that human rights defenders and lawyers in the UAE are able to carry out their peaceful and legitimate work in a safe and enabling environment without fear of threats or acts of intimidation and harassment of any person. 

The experts also requested clarification of how the use of counter-terrorism measures against human rights defenders in the UAE is consistent with its obligations to take counter-terrorism measures and fully comply with international law, including international human rights law. 

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