On the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer, release imprisoned human rights lawyers Dr Al-Roken and Dr Al-Mansouri
On the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer, 24 January, ICFUAE calls for the immediate release of imprisoned Emiarti lawyers Dr Mohammed Al-Roken and Dr Mohammed Al-Mansouri.
Every year on this day the international community commemorates the day in 1977 when four lawyers and a co-worker were killed in their office in Madrid. Today, lawyers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) still work and live in constant fear of reprisal by the government for defending the “wrong” person. Scores of jurists have been silenced, harassed, detained and tortured in recent years for no other reason than carrying out their duty as lawyers.
Dr Mohammed Al-Roken, a prominent human rights lawyer, has been imprisoned since July 2012 solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association, including through his work as a lawyer. He is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for signing an online petition calling for democratic reform in the UAE. He was sentenced following the 2013 mass trial of 94 people known collectively as the “UAE 94”. It is worth noting that the trial has been heavily critiqued and regarded as grossly unfair. Another defendant in the mass trial was human rights lawyer Dr Mohammed Al-Mansouri, who was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison. The main evidence used against him was a “confession” obtained through torture.
Dr Al-Mansouri was not allowed to contact his family for over a year until recently. Both men are being held in Al-Razeen prison, a maximum-security prison in the desert of Abu Dhabi, which is used to hold activists, government critics, and human rights defenders. They face arbitrary disciplinary measures, such as solitary confinement, deprivation of family visits, and intrusive body searches.
After her visit to the UAE in 2014, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers raised serious concerns about the practices of the authorities and called on them to immediately address these issues to protect judges and lawyers and grant their independence. Since that visit, the Emirati government has not authorised any visit from UN mandate holders to this day.
The International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE remains gravely concerned by the situation of lawyers in the UAE. We urge the authorities to put an immediate end to all forms of harassment and intimidation against jurists, grant their independence and protect their families from collective punishment. ICFUAE further calls on the United Arab Emirates to immediately and unconditionally release Dr Al-Roken and Dr Al-Mansouri and all other judges and lawyers sentenced in the UAE94 trial.