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Statement on UAE Targeting Families of Detained Human Rights Defenders

[Image from gc4hr.org] [Image from gc4hr.org]

[The following statement was issued by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights on 16 February 2013.]

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information that authorities in the UAE are targeting family members of human rights defenders currently in detention. In recent days the daughter of Dr Mohammed Al-Mansoori has been subjected to judicial harassment while the son of Saleh Al-Dhufairi has been intimidated by state authorities.

Moza Al-Mansoori, twenty-three year-old daughter of prominent human rights defender Dr Mohammed Al-Mansoori, has been sentenced on fabricated charges of endangering the lives of others, reportedly in an attempt to put pressure on her father to desist his human rights work. On 6 February 2013 the court of first instance in Abu Dhabi sentenced her to three months in prison. Her lawyer immediately appealed the sentence and a hearing date of 24 February 2013 was given for the appeal. However, on 11 February 2013 police arrived at the home of Dr Mohammed Al-Mansoori to arrest his daughter. She was not present at the house and it is reported that she may have gone into hiding as a result of the sentence.

The sentence relates to an incident that took place two months ago while she was at the Supreme Court, along with relatives of other detainees, to see her father. She reportedly drove through an entrance, which unbeknownst to her was not a public entrance. She was asked to move her car by the security guard, which she promptly did. State security officials allegedly forced the security guard to report that he had nearly been hit by the car. As a result, Moza Al-Mansoori and the wife of another detainee against whom the charges were later dropped, were charged with endangering the lives of others. On 14 November 2012, the two women were called to report to the police and were interrogated for six hours. They were taken in handcuffs and shackles to the Prosecutor’s office where they were questioned for a further four hours before being charged and released on bail.

On 13 February 2013, Hassan Al-Dhufairi, son of detained human rights defender Saleh Al-Dhufairi, was called by the Security office at the Immigration Department of Ras Al-Khaimah to report to them the following day to “update his information.” Hassan Al-Dhufairi responded that he was not able to do so as he was working but offered to send his brother in his place as he has power of attorney to act on his behalf. He also offered to alternatively report to the office in May when he was on leave from work. The authorities insisted that he report to them the following day but he repeated that he was not in a position to do so. Furthermore, according to information received, Hassan Al-Dhufairi has been followed by cars over the past two weeks allegedly occupied by state officials.

The GCHR has repeatedly called on the authorities to release those in detention due to their human rights activities. These latest incidents are evidence of a direct targeting of family members of detained human rights defenders. The GCHR believes that the sentencing of Moza Al-Mansoori and the intimidation of Hassan Al-Dhufairi are attempts by the authorities to put pressure on their fathers to stop their human rights activities. This tactic employed by the authorities must end immediately.

The GCHR urges the authorities in UAE to: 

  • Immediately quash the sentence and drop all charges against Moza Al-Mansoori;
  • Immediately and unconditionally desist from targeting the families of detained human rights defenders Dr Mohammed Al-Mansoori and Saleh Al-Dhufairi;
  • Immediately and unconditionally release, and drop all charges against, Dr Mohammed Al-Mansoori and Saleh Al-Dhufairi and all other human rights defenders detained as a result of their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities;
  • Guarantee in all circumstances that the families of all human rights defenders in the UAE are able to live their lives without fear of intimidation or harassment by the authorities; 
  • Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, and their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c), which states: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

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