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United Arab Emirates
Urgent Interventions

Arrest and disappearance of Mr. Nasser Bin Ghaith

ARE 001 / 0815 / OBS 069

Detention in a secretlocation /

Risk of tortureand ill-treatment

UnitedArab Emirates

August 20, 2015

The Observatoryfor the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the InternationalFederation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in thefollowing situation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Description of the situation:

The Observatoryhas been informed by reliable sources about the arrest and disappearance of Mr.Nasser Bin Ghaith, a pro-democracy activist and prominent professor, who hasbeen promoting democratic reforms and the respect of freedom of expression inhis country for several years.

According tothe information received, on August 18, 2015 at around 2 p.m. the StateSecurity Authority arrested Mr. Bin Ghaith while he was leaving his office in AbuDhabi. Two hours later, around 13 State Security agents in plain clothesconducted house search at Mr. Bin Ghaith's domicile in the absence of the latter, after he refused to collaborate. Thehouse search lasted for more than four and a half hours, and the agentsallegedly seized personal material. During the search, the agents would haveput USB sticks amongst his belongings. At around 8.30 p.m. the State Securityagents brought him to an unknown location. Since then, his family and hislawyer has not heard from him.

The reason forthe arrest remains unknown as of today. His family was not informed of any charges brought against him. Nevertheless,according to local sources, the arrest would be linked to some tweetscriticising the Egyptian authorities said to have been written by Mr. BinGhaith at the occasion of the second anniversary of the repression of peacefulprotesters in Egypt on August 14, 2013 (known as the Rabaa massacre)[1].

The Observatorywould like to recall that this would not be the first time that Mr. Ghaith istargeted for expressing his opinions on-line. Indeed, he was detained betweenApril and November 2011 together with four other freedom of expression anddemocracy activists, including human rights defender and Martin Ennals Award2015 final nominee Mr. Ahmed Mansoor[2], in a case known as the “UAE5”, for havingsigned an online petition calling for a democratic reform of the FederalNational Council. They were charged under Art. 176 of the Penal code of“publicly insulting” UAE’s rulers. They were pardoned on November 28, 2011 bythe UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The Observatoryis deeply concerned about Mr. Ghaith's physical and psychological integrity,due to previous accusations of alleged use of torture and ill treatment byState Security Authority against detainees held in secret locations. Inaddition, Mr. Bin Ghaith suffers from high blood pressure and needs to take thenecessary medication.

If the allegedaccusations were confirmed, this case could be another illustrative example ofa wider repression campaign targeting human rights defenders and activistscriticising the current regime in the country since the “Cybercrimes Law” waspassed in 2012. UAE authorities have increasingly used this law to clamp downon all forms of online dissent, especially via Twitter, which is usedwidely in the United Arab Emirates, and to prosecute social media userscriticising the country's human rights offences[3].

The Observatory expresses its concernregarding the arbitrary arrest and secret detention of Mr. Nasser Bin Ghaith,which seems to aim only at preventing him from carrying out his peaceful humanrights activities, and calls upon the UAE judicial authorities to immediatelyand unconditionally release him.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of theUnited Arab Emirates asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrityof Mr. Nasser Bin Ghaith and all human rights defenders in UAE;

ii. Release Mr. Nasser Bin Ghaith immediately and unconditionally, since his detentionis arbitrary as it seems to only aim at curtailing his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level,against Mr. Nasser Bin Ghaith and all human rights defenders in UAE;

iv. Review the “Cybercrimes Law” passed in 2012 in order to guarantee to allUAE citizens their freedom of expression, both off line and online;

v. Undertake a prompt, immediate, independent, and exhaustive investigationon allegations of acts of torture and ill treatment committed by the StateSecurity Authority against detainees held in secret locations;

vi. Comply with all the provisions of theUnited Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:

- its Article 1, whichprovides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association withothers, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of humanrights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

- its Article 6(a), whichforesees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association withothers, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of humanrights and fundamental freedoms”;

- its Article 12.2, whichprovides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure theprotection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and inassociation with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, defacto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any otherarbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of therights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vii.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamentalfreedoms in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by the United Arab Emirates.


·President of the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed AlNahyan, Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Corniche Road Abu Dhabi, P.O. Box 280United Arab Emirates. Fax: +971 2 622 2228. Email:

· CrownPrince of Abu Dhabi, Mr. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince CourtBainunah Street, Abu Dhabi, P.O. Box 124, United Arab Emirates. Fax: +971 2 6686622. Twitter: @MBZNews

· Vice-President and PrimeMinister, MR Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Office of the PrimeMinister, Dubai, P.O. Box 2838, United Arab Emirates. Fax: + 971 4 353 1974.Email:

· Minister of Justice, Sultan binSaeed Al Badi, Al Khubirah, Sector 93, Street 5, P.O. Box 260, Abu Dhabi,United Arab Emirates. Fax: +971 2 681 0680. Email, via website:

· H.E.Mr. Obaid Salem Saeed Al Zaabi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the United ArabEmirates to the United Nations in Geneva, 58 Rue de Moillebeau, 1209 Geneva,Switzerland. Fax: +41.22.734.556. E-mail:

·H.E. Mr. Sulaiman Hamid Salem Almazroui,Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Brussels, 11 Rue des Colonies, 1000Brussels, Belgium. Fax: 02 646 24 73. E-mail:

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of UAE in yourrespective country.

[1] Unofficial translation of the tweet:“On this day, worshipers were murdered and a mosque was burnt down by theMongols of this age…It happened in Egypt”.

[2] Seethe OMCT Press Release of April 22, 2015,

[3] See also the Urgent Appeal of the Observatory ARE 001 / 0814 / OBS 069, of August 6, 2014.

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