On World Press Freedom Day, the ICFUAE Condemns the Lack of Freedom of Speech in the UAE
On World Press Freedom Day, the ICFUAE condemns the repression of freedom of expression in the UAE by the authorities. This includes the arbitrary detention of journalists, academics, and human rights defenders, censorship of the press, and the monitoring and surveillance of online activity.
Reports Without Borders ranked the UAE number 119 in the world within the 2017 World Press Freedom Index. The report highlights online surveillance and the targeting of citizen journalists and bloggers as two key areas of concern. Only a few days ago, The Huffington Post was blocked in the UAE without any explanation from the authorities. This is one of several cases of publications being banned for their coverage. This crackdown on freedom of speech is extended to journalists like Tayseer al-Najjar who only last month was sentenced to three years in prison for comments he made on social media that were critical of the UAE's foreign policy, along with other Gulf countries. Under the 2012 cybercrime laws, any criticism of the government, its ruling families, or its allies can be punished with imprisonment. In 2016 alone, around 300 people in the UAE were arrested simply for expressing opinions on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The ICFUAE strongly condemns these human rights violations which include the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and demands the release of all prisoners of conscience detained merely for the peaceful exercise of their rights.