Release leading Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, convicted two years ago
Today, 29 May 2020, marks two years since Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals sentenced human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor to ten years in prison and a fine of 1 Mio AED (£220,000), purely on the basis of the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs.
Following a 14-month period of pre-trial detention in an undisclosed location, Mansoor was convicted for “publish[ing] false information, rumours and lies about the UAE” which “would damage the UAE's social harmony and unity”. These charges are in relation to articles expressing his views on the Emirati government’s prosecution of other activists for speech “crimes”, and to his tweets criticising human rights violations in Egypt and Yemen.
Since his arrest over three years ago, Mansoor has been held in solitary confinement. He lives in a 2x2 meter cell in the isolation ward of Abu Dhabi’s al-Sadr prison, where he spends nights sleeping on the floor and days deprived of any means of passing the time, as he has no mattress, books or TV. He has not been permitted to leave his cell - not even to go to the canteen - apart from a handful of family visits, and only once has he been allowed outside to the prison’s exercise yard. In protest, he launched two separate hunger strikes in March and September 2019. His physical and psychological conditions have consequently deteriorated significantly and he has in the past been too weak to walk unassisted. We therefore consider him to be highly vulnerable amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as he would be at grave risk if he were to contract the disease.
In May 2019, seven UN experts issued a statement urging the UAE authorities to provide Mansoor with medical treatment, improved living conditions and a retrial. The statement noted that his poor prison conditions “including prolonged solitary confinement, may constitute torture” and violated basic human rights standards “which risk taking an irrevocable toll on Mr Mansoor’s health”.
Ahead of Eid Al Fitr, President Sheikh Khalifa pardoned 669 prisoners, however prisoners of conscience, including Ahmed Mansoor, spent yet another Eid in isolation separated from their families in atrocious conditions. Dubai Central Prison also released hundreds of inmates as part of an initiative to reduce the prison population by 35% during the pandemic, although this did not include any political prisoners and other Emirati prisons have not yet shown any sign of following suit.
Now more than ever, it is imperative that the Emirati authorities heed the calls from around the world and grant Ahmed Mansoor, a father of four, his freedom. He should never have been imprisoned in the first place, and in light of the gravely enhanced risks in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, his detention could, in the end, amount to a death sentence.
We call on the UAE government therefore to take urgent action and release Ahmed Mansoor immediately and unconditionally.
- For further information or comment, please get in touch with the ICFUAE team at email@example.com or call +44 (0) 79 51524450.