UAE Prisoner of Conscience Tayseer al-Najjar Suffers Serious Health Deterioration
Jordanian journalist and UAE prisoner of conscience Tayseer al-Najjar's health has deteriorated significantly as a result of not receiving adequate medical treatment in UAE's al-Wathba prison.
Reports suggest that al-Najjar is suffering from kidney pains, eye problems, and sharp bone pains for which the UAE authorities have so far refused to provide any medication for since his arrest.
Tayseer al-Najjar was originally detained by the UAE authorities on 3 December 2015, where he was held for more than a year without charge or access to a lawyer. A journalist of 15 years, al-Najjar began working in the UAE in April 2015 after landing a job as a cultural reporter for the UAE based al-Dar newspaper.
During his detention, al-Najjar was questioned by the UAE authorities on Facebook posts he made before entering the country in 2015. Officials pointed to posts al-Najjar had published in 2014 in which he declared support for the “Gazan resistance” during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, and where he criticized the UAE and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt.
In March of this year, the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeals Court convicted al-Najjar under article 29 of the country's cybercrime law which provides prison sentences from three to fifteen years for publishing content online with “intent to make sarcasm or damage the reputation, prestige or stature of the State or any of its institutions”. Al-Najjar was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 500,000 UAE Dh ($136,000).
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, condemned al-Najjar's conviction as “senseless” and urged the UAE authorities to immediately revoke al-Najjar's sentence and allow him to return home to his family in Jordan. Amnesty International consider him a prisoner of conscience and have demanded his immediate and unconditional release.
It is imperative that the UAE authorities abide by its obligations under international law to ensure Tayseer al-Najjar receives adequate medical treatment and care that properly addresses his health needs during his detention. In failing to do so, the actions of the Emirati authorities stand in clear contravention the UN's treaty regarding the Standard Minimum Rules for The Treatment of Prisoners.
The mistreatment of Al-Najjar's is not isolated case. In recent years, numerous reports have documented the degrading conditions which prisoners of conscience in the UAE are forced to endure. In light of this, it is crucial that international bodies such as the UN exercise more pressure on the Emirati authorities to adhere to international human rights legislation.
- For more information regarding the health of Tayseer al-Najjar, please see http://icfuae.org.uk/news/jordanian-journalist-tayseer-al-najjar-suffers-health-deterioration
- For more information on the detention of al-Najjar, please see https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde25/5681/2017/en/