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United Arab Emirates

Mission report illustrates difficulty of verifying conditions of detention and trial of Ahmed Mansoor, serving 10-year sentence for human rights reporting

(The Press Release is also available in Arabic here: UAE_Publication_Press_Release_2018.06.20_Arabic)


Fifteen months after the arrest of prominenthuman rights defender Ahmed Mansoorin the United Arab Emirates (UAE), human rights organisations still have noconfirmation of his exact detention location, nor the condition in which he isbeing held. There are few details about the trial of Mansoor, who was sentencedto 10 years in prison on 29 May 2018 for his human rights activities, apartfrom what has been reported in the media.

On 26 February 2018, two lawyers from Irelandapproached the UAE Ministry of the Interior in an attempt to determine theexact whereabouts of Mansoor, and to visit him if possible. Today, the GulfCentre for Human Rights (GCHR), the Martin Ennals Foundation, Front LineDefenders, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and theObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDHand the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), reiterate their calls tofree Mansoor, as they release a report of the mission, “Ahmed Mansoor, theMissing Prisoner”.

Mansoor, who has been detained since 20 March2017 for his human rights activities, received the Martin Ennals Award forHuman Rights Defenders in 2015, and is a member of the GCHR advisory board. Heis the father of four young boys.

According to local media reports, on 29 May2018, Ahmed Mansoor was convicted of various charges and sentenced to 10 yearsby the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court. [1] He was also fined one million Dirhams (USD$272,294.00) and the court ordered him to be put under surveillance for threeyears upon his release. Local media have said that Mansoor was convicted of“insulting the 'status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols' including itsleaders” and of “seeking to damage the relationship of the UAE with itsneighbours by publishing false reports and information on social media.” Undernew laws in the UAE, Mansoor will be entitled to appeal the verdict.

“This trial raises a number of concerns,” saysthe mission report, calling it “grossly unfair.” The mission report said,“There was no public announcement that the trial would take place. Theconviction and sentence were reported in the media, but there has been no publicpronouncement or information on the trial itself. While Mansoor was representedby a lawyer, this was only announced in the press after the fact. Furthermore,it appears that the appeal process would be held in the same court.”

The mission report concludes: “Given the widelydocumented use of torture and solitary confinement by UAE authorities, and thelack of any independent information regarding Mansoor, there are grave andsolidly founded fears for his safety. His place of detention remains unknown, althoughit is believed that he is being held in a prison that belongs to the StateSecurity Apparatus. There is no information on how he is being treated, orwhether he is in solitary confinement.”

On 12 June 2018, UN human rights experts urged the UAE authorities to immediately freeMansoor and “reverse the decision against him.” They state: “The sentencing ofAhmed Mansoor represents an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression andfreedom of association, as well as on human rights defenders in the United ArabEmirates as a whole.” The UN experts added, “Not only is such a sentenceunreasonably severe but Mr. Mansoor should never have been detained in the firstplace for legitimately exercising the freedoms that all people, including humanrights defenders, are entitled to.”

The mission report is available:

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