UAE: UN finds detention of Ahmed Mansoor arbitrary, request reparation payout

The detention of Ahmed Mansoor, aged 42, well-known Emirati human rights defender, for more than 7 months was arbitrary, announced the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. They also called on the Emirati authorities to provide him with reparation for this unfair treatment. It seems in fact that Mansoor's surprise pardon on 28 November may have been the result of the UN's decision on the case.

The story began when Ahmed Mansoor was arrested on 9 April 2011. He was able to inform the international community of his arrest just before it happened, as security forces attempted to abduct him in the middle of the night the day before his arrest. When this failed, a group of ten individuals was sent the next day to arrest him.

Alkarama, alarmed at Mr Mansoor's arbitrary arrest and fearing for his safety, alerted the Special Rapporteur on Torture on 12 April, requesting his intervention with the authorities of the UAE.

As of June, Mansoor was placed on trial with 4 other activists: Nasser bin Ghaith, an economist and university lecturer at Sorbonne Abu Dhabi; and online activists Fahad Salim Dalk, Ahmed Abdul-Khaleq, and Hassan Ali al-Khamis, collectively known by their supporters as the 'UAE 5' before the State Security Court. They were accused of "publicly insulting" UAE rulers. The trial took place behind closed doors, in contravention of international fair trial standards. Following pressure from an international human rights coalition working on the case, the trial was opened to observers, including Alkarama which attended two hearings, and found numerous flaws in the proceedings.

Following sessions in the summer and autumn of 2011, which confirmed concerns expressed by human rights organisations, the court found Ahmed Mansoor and the four others guilty on 27 November 2011 and sentenced them to 2-3 years of imprisonment. However, Alkarama learned the next day in a surprising twist that Mr Mansoor and the other activists arrested with him were to be released that very evening, on 28 November 2011. It is only now that we have learned the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention communicated its opinion on the arbitrary nature of Ahmed Mansoor's detention on 22 November 2011, only 6 days before his release.

While we commend the Emirati authorities for respecting the Working Group's findings and released the UAE 5, we remain concerned that the 5 men's criminal records have not been expunged.

In addition, we are concerned that they continue to suffer harassment to this day. Ahmed Mansoor expressed to Alkarama the frustration that "the authorities' tactics have not changed" – he is not able to reinstate his job, is unable to travel and continues to be the target of online death threats which the authorities refuse to address.

Alkarama calls on the Emirati authorities to respond to the Working Group opinion No. 64/2011 in both letter and spirit by providing reparation, as required by the opinion, for the arbitrary detention of Ahmed Mansoor, and that harassment and violations against him and the other 'UAE 5' cease immediately.

Alkarama recalls that it recently expressed alarm at the growing number of attacks on freedom of expression and opinion in the country, and views the ongoing harassment of Ahmed Mansoor and other human rights defenders as contrary to international human rights norms and will continue to inform the United Nations of such violations.

Geneva, 14 February 2012

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