UN Secretary General Denounces Reprisals Against Human Rights Defenders in the UAE
On 16 September 2016, United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-Moon's last report on reprisals against persons who have cooperated with the UN was presented to the Human Rights Council (HRC) and stressed "the absolute unacceptability of any act of intimidation or reprisal, no matter how seemingly subtle or explicit" and that "such acts, which run contrary to the principle of human dignity and violate numerous human rights, show complete contempt and disregard for the United Nations system as a whole." On 24 May 2016, Alkarama had provided the Secretary General with a report detailing reprisals taken by Arab States against human rights defenders.
Amongst the victims mentioned by the UNSG the cases of the prominent activist Said Jadad in Oman and blogger Osama al-Najjar in the United Arab Emirates who were both prosecuted after having met respectively with the Special Rapporteur on the rights and freedom of peaceful assembly and association (SR FPAA) and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of judges and lawyers (SR IJL).
The report regretted that no response was ever provided by the Omani government to the communication sent by the UN Special Procedures in January 2015 on Jadad's case, and that the Emirati authorities also ignored the appeal sent in April 2015 by the UN expressing concern over the sentencing of al-Najjar to three years in prison, for having contacted "foreign organisations" – in reference to the UN human rights mechanisms – and presented "inaccurate information".
"The repression of human rights defenders by Arab regimes continues to increase and these cases are just the tip of the iceberg," says Inès Osman, Coordinator of Alkarama's Legal Department. "Reprisals take various forms, going from travel bans, prosecution on trumped-up charges, torture and even execution of human rights defenders who did nothing more than report cases of human rights abuses to the UN human rights mechanisms." Alkarama therefore expresses its support to all those who, often putting their lives and freedom in danger, continue to fight against violations of human rights in the Arab world and calls upon all Arab States to refrain from any act of reprisals.