UAE: authorities must immediately release human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor

The ICJ today called on the Untied Arab Emirates (UAE)’ authorities to immediately release Ahmed Mansoor, the 2015 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, and to ensure that he is not subjected to any form of ill-treatment as long as he remains detained.

On 20 March 2017, security officials raided the apartment where Ahmed Mansoor and his family resides and confiscated electronic devices. They took Ahmed Mansoor away at around 3:15AM local time. His present whereabouts remain unknown.

The authorities have not informed his family members of the reasons for his arrest, the authority that ordered such arrest, or the location to which he was taken.

The ICJ calls upon the UAE authorities to disclose, as a matter of urgency, Ahmed Mansoor’s place of detention and provide full information about his fate and whereabouts.

International law requires that detainees be held in officially recognized places of detention and that no one is held secretly in detention, whether in officially recognized detention facilities or elsewhere.

The ICJ fears that the arrest and secret detention of Ahmed Mansoor is likely related to his human rights work, protected under international law.

His activities involve the exercise of his right to the freedom of expression, including his use of social media to criticize attacks on human rights defenders in the UAE.

“Arbitrarily detaining Ahmed Mansoor and subjecting him to secret detention exemplifies the lengths to which the UAE authorities are prepared to go in their relentless campaign to suppress peaceful human rights work and to reduce to silence all those perceived to be critical of the authorities,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“The UAE authorities must comply with their obligations under international law and release immediately and unconditionally all those individuals detained or imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association,” he added.

Mansor’s arrest and secret detention comes amidst a continuing crackdown on individuals calling for peaceful political reform.

Many of them were subjected to serious human rights violations, including torture and other-ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.

The ICJ has previously documented such cases.


Said Benarbia, ICJ Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: 41 22 979 38 17, e: said.benarbia(a)


Ahmed Mansoor is a highly prominent human rights defender in the UAE and well known in the Arab region and around the world.

He has regularly monitored and raised awareness about cases of serious human rights violations in the UAE, including cases arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and violations of fair trial rights.

Since 2006, has faced repeated intimidation and harassment, including imprisonment in 2011 after being convicted of “insulting officials” and sentenced to three years’ in prison, although he was released after eight months.

Since being jailed in 2011, he has been denied a passport and banned from travelling.