Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: 10 June 2021
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, has expressed her grave concern at the long-term imprisonment of five human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates, urging the government to release them immediately.
The statement, published by the media centre of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, included human rights defenders (Mohamed al-Mansoori, Hassan Mohammed Al-Hammad, Hadif Rashed Abdullah al-Owais, Ali Saeed Al-Kindi and Salim Hamdoon Al-Shahhi), who are part of the so-called ‘UAE94’, a group of 94 lawyers, human rights defenders and academics, who were sentenced to 10 years in prison in July 2013, on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. The proceedings against them began in the context of an escalating crackdown by the UAE authorities against individuals and organizations calling for peaceful political reform.
“Their sentences were excessively severe, and their detentions have been declared arbitrary according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,” said Lawlor, stressing that they should have never been detained in the first place for legitimately exercising the freedoms that all people are entitled to.
“There are worrying allegations that they are subjected to long periods in solitary confinement, which could amount to torture,” she said, noting that among other allegations, the authorities turned off air conditioners when temperatures rose above 40 degrees Celsius, and windows being covered, preventing prisoners from seeing sunlight.
Lawlor emphasized that their trials may have violated their right to a fair trial, denying them or severely restricting their access to legal counsel, including during interrogation.
The UN rapporteur called on the UAE authorities to release them in order to continue their meaningful and necessary human rights work.