Mission to UAE supports EU resolution against crackdown on activists
British lawyer Victoria Meads carried out the mission between 30 October to 3 November 2012, on behalf of the GCHR, in cooperation with the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Human Rights Watch, both members of IFEX, which provided support for the mission. It was organised as part of an ongoing campaign started in 2011 by human rights groups to support and protect fundamental freedoms in UAE and in particular, freedoms of expression, opinion and association. That campaign saw the successful release of the "UAE 5", five men detained in violation of their right to free speech.
The mission was carried out following the refutation of the European resolution by the UAE and its allies, including the Italian government. On 26 October 2012, the European Parliament approved a Resolution following an investigation by EP members into the state of human rights in the UAE. The Resolution expressed grave concerns over the treatment, repression and intimidation of human rights defenders, political activist and civil society actors who peacefully exercise their basic rights to freedom of expression, opinion and assembly, including 64 detainees.
The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in response, "The biased and prejudiced report levelled unsubstantiated accusations without examining the facts of the situation on the ground."
Meads says, "The conclusions of the European Parliament are clearly accurate in the absence of any evidence to the contrary." She added, "The findings during this mission wholly support those conclusions. International intervention is urgently required and the Western world should be reviewing human rights commitments in its dealings with the UAE, whilst the UAE continues to sanction such significant breaches of basic human rights."
The goals of the recent mission were to investigate human rights violations, including the on-going crackdown on human rights defenders and activists which has led so far to around 64 arrests and enforced disappearances. The mission also met human rights defenders and some members of the families of detained activists, as well as making an official request to visit prominent human rights lawyers Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken and Dr. Mohammed Al-Mansori in prison, which was rejected by the office of the Office of the Attorney General in UAE.
The GCHR and its campaign partners respectfully call on the authorities in the UAE to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release all 64 human rights defenders and activists who are being held as a direct result of their legitimate human rights work;
2. Immediately disclose the whereabouts of all human rights defenders that are being detained;
Grant the 64 human rights defenders and activists in detention immediate and unfettered access to legal representation, as well as their families;
3. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of the 64 human rights defender and activists who remain in detention;
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment;
5. Guarantee the rights of freedom of expression, assembly, and association for all citizens and residents of the UAE.
The full report is available in English online at GCHR's website.