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Geneva, on January 7, 2020

On January 1st, 2020, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement in response to the information relayed by NGOs on the violations suffered by prominent human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor.

With an increasing number of public actions being taken lately by the civil society and human rights groups, the case of Ahmed Mansoor has become extremely publicised and the public opinion has been extensively informed about him. After ignoring the situation for a while, the authorities eventually decided to respond to the reported allegations of abuses against the activist.

In its statement, the government claimed that Ahmed Mansoor had been arrested for breaking the law and committing crimes such as “inciting hatred, disturbing public order and providing several organisations with false information that would damage the reputation and standing of the UAE.” According to the statement, Mansoor has been treated in total compliance with the law and his rights have been scrupulously respected “beginning from the investigation and […] concluding with the court’s ruling.”

It must be outlined that Ahmed Mansoor was arrested for denouncing human rights abuses and cooperating with human rights organisations and the UN mechanisms. He was unlawfully arrested, in violation of all procedural safeguards, and has been held in a solitary confinement cell since his arrest in 2017. According to the latest information on his case, Ahmed remains in the same detention conditions to this day.

The Ministry further expressed doubts regarding the objectivity and accuracy of the allegations reported by NGOs and claimed that the human rights activist was currently in good health and had access to health care. It further stated that he “received regular family visits, the latest being in November.” It is concerning to note that receiving one visit in over a month is considered by the UAE to comply with its minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners.

Furthermore, it should be stressed that the alleged violations reported by the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) and other human rights NGOs have been verified with caution and that the allegations have been shared by UN human rights experts, who estimated that the alleged facts were consistent and reliable. However, we call on the government to provide evidence to support its claims, including by allowing UN experts to visit Ahmed Mansoor and other prisoners of conscience in jail to confirm or refute these allegations themselves.

The statement finally stressed that the “Emirati society is one of tolerance in which all members live together in harmony while committed to the values enshrined within the UAE Constitution and UAE law, which guarantee freedoms such as the freedom of expression insofar as the law is not broken and social stability is not affected.” Yet, Ahmed Mansoor was arrested and sentenced to 10 years for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. Days prior to his arrest, the activist was calling on social media for the release of prisoner of conscience Osama Al-Najjar and other prisoners of conscience.

The government further accused human rights organisations reporting on Ahmed Mansoor’s case of spreading “fabricated facts” to damage the reputation of the UAE “based on their particular agenda”. The authorities do not provide any arguments to justify their claims and continue to direct accusations without objective evidence, as this was done in the case of Ahmed Mansoor and other prisoners of conscience in the UAE.

The ICJHR calls upon the authorities to urgently address the situation of Ahmed Mansoor and other prisoners of conscience and release them without delay. The Centre further calls on the UAE to grant UN independent experts and human rights organisations access to the detention facilities in the UAE and allow them to meet with the victims to assess their detention conditions first-hand.

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