The ICFUAE Demand Justice for Victims of Enforced Disappearances in the UAE
On the UN's International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the ICFUAE calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those forcefully disappeared in the UAE.
The UAE authorities regularly use enforced disappearances as a means to spread fear and insecurity throughout society, repress political opposition, and silence dissenting voices. In recent years, the UAE authorities have forcefully disappeared journalists, human rights activists, and academics for months, or in some cases years at a time.
In March of this year, the prominent human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor was forcefully disappeared by the UAE authorities after plain clothed officials stormed his home in the early hours of the morning. He has since been held in an unknown location by Emirati authorities where has been denied family visits or access to lawyer. Due to Mansoor being a victim of an Enforced Disappearance, not much is known about his current situation, leaving this human rights defender at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment at the hands of UAE security officials.
On 18 August 2015 the prominent Emirati economist, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was forcibly disappeared for a period of eight months without any charges being raised against him. Eventually, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for writing tweets criticising UAE authorities. During this time, bin Ghaith claims that he suffered torture and ill-treatment at the hands of Emirati security officials. Although he raised these complaints in court, they were rejected by state officials and were never investigated.
In March 2015, Jordanian journalist Tayseer al-Najjar was forcefully disappeared by authorities for over a year before being sentenced to three years in prison on Twitter charges. During this period, he was held without charge in an unknown location, where he was denied access to lawyer or family visits.
These cases should not be read in isolation, but rather are constitutive of a wider climate of repression in the UAE concerning the use of Enforced Disappearances, of which there have been countless examples in recent years.
In 2010, the UN treaty on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance came into force. The convention aims at preventing enforced disappearances worldwide. However, so far the UAE has declined to ratify this treaty.
The ICFUAE demand that the Emirati authorities release all those they have forcefully disappeared, adhere to the UN treaty on the matter, and abide by international human rights law. Furthermore, the UAE must allow the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances' to visit the UAE in order to investigate cases on the matter, and meet the families of those of the disappeared. The international community must exert more pressure on the Emirati authorities to respect the basic human rights of those residing within its borders.