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The revocation of citizenship by the UAE should be subject to judicial appeal.

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The voting for this poll has ended on: May 4, 2018

 upr 22 janvier 2018

Geneva, 1st February 2018

The president of the United Nations Human Rights Council opened the review of the United Arab Emirates on 22 January 2018. Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the UAE, began by presenting “the progress” made in human rights since the last UPR review in 2013, in particular with regards to the empowerment of women and equality between men and women in national legislations and in governmental institutions. While the minister's speech did not clarify the reports issued on violations in the field of freedoms, which prompted the delegations participating in the review to urge this issue in their recommendations.

Freedom of expression

Many States including Switzerland and Sweden expressed their concerns with reports of torture and limitations of freedoms of expression. The delegation of Sweden recommended the amendment of the cyber crime law, the anti-terrorism law and the penal code. The delegation of Austria referred to the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor and recommended the UAE to promote the legislation on freedom of expression. The delegation of Norway also recommended the release of custody for anyone held for their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and association. In the same line, many States, including Qatar, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United States of America, Estonia, Austria and Slovenia recommended the UAE to take measures to protect human rights defenders.

Many delegations recommended the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution in accordance with the Paris Principles. As a response, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the UAE announced the creation of a NHRI this year 2018 and stated that it will be an additional instrument to the national instruments currently in place.

Conventions and Cooperation with the UN

Many states including Germany, Slovenia, Portugal and Sierra Leone recommended the ratification of the ICCPR. The delegation of UAE stated that the government is considering acceding to international instruments such as the ICCPR, the ICESCR and the ICCPR OP2. Concerning the reservations on CEDAW, Peru, Honduras and Mongolia recommended the UAE to withdraw those reservations and revise its legal provisions that discriminate women.

Various States, including Sweden, Switzerland and Austria raised their concern about the UAE’s lack of cooperation with United Nations institutions. Sweden recommended the UAE to issue a standing invitation to the Human Rights Council’s special procedures, and accept a visit by the Special Rapporteur of Human Rights Defenders. Switzerland recommended the submission of the UAE’s report to the Committee against Torture and engage in a dialogue with the CAT. In response, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs answered that the UAE is preparing its initial report to the UNCAT.

Condition of detention


Concerning the prison and court system in the UAE, Qatar expressed its concerns about systematic human rights violations in the UAE and recommended the UAE to stop and investigate all acts of torture and cruel treatment and prosecute those responsible for its order and perpetration. France and Portugal recommended the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Italy recommended the UAE to put an end to secret detention. Botswana recommended the UAE to limit pre-trial detentions and Chile recommended to clearly inform detainees of their sentence. Many States, including Denmark and Finland recommended the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. As a response, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs stated, with a lot of fallacy, that “there is no arbitrary arrest nor arbitrary detention and that no one is detained without respect for legal procedures”. He also mentioned that a person who is arrested is “immediately informed of the actions against him and is dealt in line with the law. He then emphasized that detainees can communicate with their family and meet a lawyer”.

With regards to death penalty, many States, including Italy, Australia, Portugal and Slovenia recommended the UAE to establish a moratorium on death penalty as a first step towards eradicating that practice. Austria recommended to abolish death penalty for all crimes, especially those relating to freedom of expression and commute all existing death sentences. The Minister stated that death penalty is reserved for serious crimes implicating the death of a person.

National report

Prior to the review, the UAE issued its national report which presented the achievements made since the last UPR without reference to violations. The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) also issued its report on the situation of human rights in the UAE.

In its national report, the UAE presented institutions, legislations, policies and strategies which were implemented to promote and protect human rights. However, this can be considered as a way to circumvent other violations of human rights. For instance, the UAE stated that death penalty is restricted to the narrowest limits for extremely serious crimes or crimes that result in the deaths of other persons. Nevertheless, the UAE totally disregarded other laws that sentenced to death penalty by using broad and undefined terms (i.e. the Cyber Crime law, the Counter Terrorism law and the Penal Code). It is important to note that the OHCHR was also concerned about the Counter Terrorism law sentenced individuals whose activities were found to “undermine national unity or social peace” to death penalty.

With regards to the protection of freedom of expression, in its national report, the UAE government mentioned the Federal Law No. 15 of 1980 governing publications and publishing which was amended to respect international obligations. Nevertheless, the government omitted other national legislations that restrict freedom of opinion and expression.

Considering the above, the International centre for justice and human rights calls on member states of the Human Rights Council to continue their efforts to convince the Emirati government to take concrete and courageous steps towards respect for human rights.

And call upon the UAE government to:
1- Accept all the recommendations of the UPR Working group
2- Comply with UPR new and last recommendations and process for the protection and promotion of human rights
3- Honor its commitments to establish a national human rights institution and to send its report on torture to the CAT as soon as possible