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Activist dismissed from job for criticising human rights situation

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has said that the dismissal of human rights activist Muhammad Ali Mansouri from his post as a legal adviser to Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the governor of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, is a serious violation of freedom of expression. Mansouri had participated in a talk show on human rights in the Gulf in 2009 in which he criticised the repression of freedom of expression in the UAE and the human rights situation there.

The dismissal decision was delivered verbally and Mansouri has not as yet received written notification. However, the decision has already been implemented.

On the TV show, Mansouri pointed out some shortcomings in the freedom of expression and human rights situation in his country, criticising the bill on information activities, which is pending ratification, and regarding it as a step backward for media freedoms. He said that the number of incidents of torture carried out at police stations had decreased but that it is still practiced by some other security services. Mansouri did not conceal his fear of being exposed to retribution for his blunt opinions. He said, "The human rights activist might as well risk his job and sometimes his career is terminated," which came true a few days after the airing of the show.

It has to be mentioned that Mansouri was banned from travelling nearly two years ago when security forces seized his passport and he was detained in early June 2009 without any explanation.

ANHRI calls on the UAE government to fulfill its promises to respect freedom of opinion and expression. This incident confirms that the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah tops the list of violators of freedoms, which threatens to result in the removal of the UAE from the list of countries that defend freedom of expression and ensure the rights of citizens to express criticisms. It is sad to say that the UAE is deviating from its reform rhetoric and promises made in international forums to respect these rights.

ANHRI considers the dismissal of the activist for expressing his opinions and criticising the status of freedoms in his country to be a serious mistake, and calls for the decision to be rescinded. The UAE government should correct this situation to prevent the country from deviating off the path to reform.

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