UAE: One year on, award-winning human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor’s whereabouts remain unknown

The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should reveal the whereabouts of prominent human rights defender and citizen-journalist Ahmed Mansoor and release him immediately and unconditionally, two dozen human rights organizations, including the ICJ, said today.

Ahmed Mansoor is being held for his peaceful human rights work.

20 March 2018 marks one year since security forces arbitrarily arrested Mansoor, winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, at his home in Ajman.

The UAE authorities have continued to detain him in an unknown location, despite condemnation from UN human rights experts and independent human rights organizations.

“The authorities have subjected Ahmed Mansoor to enforced disappearance since his wife last saw him in September 2017. They must reveal his whereabouts to his family and grant him immediate access to them and to a lawyer of his choosing,” said Khalid Ibrahim, Executive Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR).

Following his arrest, the authorities announced that he is facing speech-related charges that include using social media websites to “publish false information that harms national unity.”

On 28 March 2017, a group of UN human rights experts called on the UAE government to release Mansoor immediately, describing his arrest as “a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE.”

They said that they feared his arrest “may constitute an act of reprisal for his engagement with UN human rights mechanisms, for the views he expressed on social media, including Twitter, as well as for being an active member of human rights organizations.”

“Mansoor’s arbitrary detention is a violation of his right to freedom of expression and opinion. The UAE authorities must drop all charges against him and release him immediately,” said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.

Since his arrest, Mansoor has not been allowed to make telephone calls to his family and has been allowed only two short visits with his wife, on 3 April and 17 September 2017, both under strict supervision.

He was brought from an unknown place of detention to the State Security Prosecutor’s office in Abu Dhabi for both visits.

The authorities have refused to inform his family about his place of detention and have ignored their requests for further visits.

In February 2018, a group of international human rights organizations commissioned two lawyers from Ireland to travel to Abu Dhabi to seek access to Mansoor.

The UAE authorities gave the lawyers conflicting information about Mansoor’s whereabouts.

The Interior Ministry, the official body responsible for prisons and prisoners, denied any knowledge of his whereabouts and referred the lawyers to the police.

The police also said they had no information about his whereabouts. The lawyers also visited Al-Wathba Prison in Abu Dhabi following statements made by the authorities after Mansoor’s arrest, which suggested that he was being held there.

However, the prison authorities told the lawyers that there was nobody matching Mansoor’s description in prison.

“Pending his release, Mansoor must be granted immediate and regular access to his family, as well as to a lawyer of his choosing,” said Sima Watling, UAE Researcher at Amnesty International’s Middle East Regional Office.

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