U.N. demand immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Mansoor
The UN Human Rights Office have called on the UAE authorities to immediately release Ahmed Mansoor, whose 10-year prison sentence for criticizing the government on social media was upheld earlier this week.
In a statement to reporters in Geneva today, U.N human rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said:
“We are concerned that Mansoor’s conviction and harsh sentencing relate to his exercise of the right to freedom of expression and opinion,
“We urge the government of the UAE to promptly and unconditionally release Mansoor and to ensure that individuals are not penalised for expressing views critical of the government or its allies,”
Ahmed Mansoor is an internationally acclaimed human rights campaigner, the 2015 winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and a member of both the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.
He was arrested on 20 March 2017 on suspicion of using social media to publish “flawed information” and “false news” to “incite sectarian strife and hatred” and “harm the reputation of the state”.
Often referred to as the last human rights defender speaking out publicly against repression in the Emirates, Mansoor was sentenced to ten years in prison and a fine of one million Dirhams (USD $272,294) in May 18 for “defaming” the UAE on social media – a ruling UN experts described at the time as an ‘unacceptable attack on freedom of expression.’
“This is certainly not a one-off case in the UAE,” Shamdasani added.
In March 2017, the prestigious Emirati academic Dr Nasser bin Ghaith was given a 10-year sentence for Twitter comments that criticised the human rights record of the Egyptian authorities, a close ally of the UAE.
Last month he had reportedly passed over 75 days on hunger strike in Abu Dhabi’s al-Razeen prison, where he had been demanding his immediate release.