United Arab Emirates: despite having served his 10-year arbitrary prison sentence, lawyer Mohammed al-Roken remains in detention

محمد الركن

Prominent lawyer and human rights activist Mohamed Al-Roken has served his entire 10-year prison sentence after an unfair trial and numerousbuses and ill-treatment in detention.

Al-Roken's sentence ended on 17 July 2022, but the UAE authorities decided to extend his detention without giving reasons. It is feared that he will be sent to one of the so-called "Munsaha" centers (or "counseling" centers).

A Munasaha center is located in the vicinities of the Al-Razin prison, where Emirati prisoners of conscience, activists and human rights defenders are held. These centres have been repeatedly denounced by human rights defenders as a way to keep detaining prisoners of conscience who have served their sentences.  

The action of Alkarama

Alkarama has worked on the issue of arbitrary detention in the emirates for more than a decade, including the case of lawyer Mohammed al-Roken, as well as other prisoners of conscience, activists and political opponents targeted by their authorities' crackdowns.

In particular, Alkarama has filed numerous complaints with the UN special procedures on behalf of the families of victims of arbitrary detention.

As a result, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has repeatedly concluded that the detention of  opponents and human rights defenders is arbitrary, demanding their release. Alkarama continues to follow up on these decisions and regularly brings these cases to the attention of experts and the public.

Recently, within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Arab Emirates' human rights record, the Human Rights Council issued several press releases on them.

In November 2019, Alkarama, along with many others from international human rights organizations and activists from several countries, called on the UAE and its leaders to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights lawyer and lawyer Mohammed al-Roken.

The signatories of the public appeal stressed thatMr al-Roken was arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and association, in the course of his work as a lawyer and human rights defender.

UN requests to the UAE

Despite numerous UN demands to release them, the UAE authorities continue to arbitrarily detain lawyer al-Roken and other activists. The UN experts also expressed concern that these human rights activists had been victims of abuses and acts of torture.

Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, notably pointed out that not only have Mohammed al-Roken, Ahmed Mansour and Nasser bin Ghaith not only been criminally prosecuted and imprisoned for their legitimate and non-violent calls for respect for human rights in the UAE but have also been ill-treated in prison.

The expert referred to information she had received on the conditions of detention and ill-treatment to which they had been subjected, such as prolonged solitary confinement, and stressed that such behaviour violated human rights standards and could amount to torture.

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders said Mohamed Al-Roken, imprisoned since 2012 for conspiracy against the government, is being held in solitary confinement.

In his report, he noted that the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had found the detention of Mohammed al-Roken arbitrary and had called for his immediate release.

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