3 July 2019 – Immediately, People for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain hosted a aspect event at the 41st session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC). The occasion was co-sponsored by CIVICUS, the Committee to Shield Journalists, English Pen, Frontline Defenders, International Centre for Justice and Human Rights, International Campaign for Freedom within the United Arab Emirates, the Omani Centre for Human Rights, MENA Rights Group, and Rafto.
The panel was moderated by Tyler PryAdvocacy Officer at ADHRB, and featured remarks by Imene Ben Younes of the Worldwide Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR); Sofia Kaltenbrunner of International Campaign for Freedom within the United Arab Emirates (ICFUAE); Clara Sanchez LopezAdvocacy Volunteer at People for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB); and Nabhan Al Hanashi from the Omani Centre for Human Rights (OCHR).
Tyler Pry opened the panel by noting that abuses in the UAE and Oman have largely gone underreported – even when discussing human rights abuses in Yemen, the dialog sometimes surrounds the position of Saudi Arabia in airstrikes, slightly than the UAE on the bottom and notably within the prisons. He famous that the UAE is an “equal associate” within the struggle in Yemen, chargeable for widespread human rights violations, together with arbitrary detention, torture, and sexual torture, rising to the extent of struggle crimes. Even when rights abuses are mentioned in the context of the UAE, it’s typically targeted on Yemen, and utterly ignores home abuses perpetrated.
Pry famous that whereas there’s a growing recognition of the “dismal human rights report” of the UAE, the state of affairs in Oman remains very much off the map. He famous hopes to draw consideration to the state of affairs there and exhibit that there are comparable widespread and systemic abuses throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council states, from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, and Oman. Pry then launched the panelists and turned the discussion over to them.
Imene Ben Younes, human rights officer at ICJHR, expressed her concern on using antiterrorism legal guidelines in the UAE to repress dissent, silence opposition and prohibit freedom of expression. She famous that in the UAE, free expression might be thought-about a terrorist offense, as the legal guidelines clearly target anyone criticizing authorities, they usually danger being imprisoned. In this regard, criticism of the government is included in the large definition of terrorist threats. Younes also famous using administrative detention as a software Emirati authorities have been utilizing since 2014 to detain and prosecute whoever might symbolize a “terrorist” menace. Younes explained that, beneath the regime of administrative detention, each case ought to be reviewed every three months to determine if confirming the detention or liberating the individual in charge; however the regulation allows authorities to extend indefinitely detention circumstances. As explained by Younes, such an arbitrary strategy is of nice concern for the respect of human rights within the UAE.
She famous that there are at the least eight instances reported underneath this administrative detention. Certainly one of these people, Osama Al Najjar, was sentenced to 3 years in jail for cooperating with the UN and notably UN Particular Procedures. In the UAE, this type of behaviour represents a menace to national security (in response to the authorities) and, subsequently, it is handled accordingly. She famous that Osama served his sentence, however as a result of he was thought-about a “menace,” his detention was systematically prolonged, noting that no prisoners of conscience has been released. Other prisoners of conscience could also be quickly placed in administrative detention, so that Emirati authorities can use this legal device to extend detention circumstances indefinitely. Younes concluded her remarks by reaffirming that within the UAE if someone criticizes the federal government is positioned in an indefinite circumstances of imprisonment. Subsequently, the only method to keep away from jail is aligning with the federal government and the official view. In closing, Younes requested states to strain the UAE to vary their practices, notably to amend the anti-terrorism regulation.
Sofia Kaltenbrunner of ICFUAE explained that the Cybercrime regulation prosecutes customers of data know-how comparable to blogs and social media platforms to arrange demonstrations, including that the Cybercrime regulation place restrictions on the correct to freedom of expression and assembly. Kaltenbrunner famous that the Cybercrime regulation consists of life sentences for customers of social media who oppose the federal government or who criticize the government.
Kaltenbrunner said that in 2012, many individuals have been arrested, which disproportionately affected human rights defenders. One such defender is Ahmed Mansoor, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for “defaming the UAE,” with the Supreme Courtroom upholding his sentence in December 2018. She additionally noted the case of Nasser bin Ghaith, who in 2017 was sentenced on costs of publishing false info to negatively affect the standing of the UAE. Kaltenbrunner famous that the Cybercrime regulation came into pressure right around the time of the arrest and trial of the “UAE 94.” Kaltenbrunner concluded by calling on members of the Council to induce the UAE to amend the cyber crime regulation and launch all human rights defenders.
Clara Sanchez LopezAdvocacy Volunteer at ADHRB, explained that the United Arab Emirates frequently and systematically targets critics of the government via quite a lot of mechanisms, including its cybercrime regulation. She famous that the victims of this repression usually are not solely males and male human rights defenders and activists, but ladies and ladies rights activists. She underlined that stories from Reprieve and Amnesty International have discovered that among the forms of torture Emirati safety officers use are beatings, electrical shocks, and solitary confinement. Lopez additionally emphasised the case of Ahmed Mansoor, probably the greatest recognized human rights defenders and activists within the UAE, arrested in 2015, spent a lot of its detention in solitary confinement, the prolonged use of which is a form of torture. Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith, an economist and activist, arrested in the identical yr, was held in a secret location, physically tortured, crushed and disadvantaged of sleep for as much as every week. These are only two examples of a system-wide challenge. Lopez also explained that after its army engagement in the Yemeni warfare, UAE was instantly concerned in systematic abuses throughout its borders: the Group of Eminent Specialists report on the violence in Yemen finds that: detainees have been tortured in no less than two amenities controlled by the UAE; and in different amenities managed by militias heavily backed by the UAE. At the Bureiqa facility particularly, the GEE investigated sexual violence, including the rape of male detainees.
Then, Lopez targeted on Oman, explaining that in analyzing the state of affairs of human rights in the Gulf region, Oman often will get little attention. However, restrictions on the best to free expression, affiliation, and meeting, and the detention of human rights defenders and journalists on this country deserve great consideration. She defined that underneath Omani regulation, the federal government can censor any publications deemed culturally, sexually, or politically offensive. Consequently, journalists from the Azamn journal have been incarcerated for publishing a report criticizing Oman’s judicial system. Along with closing information retailers, Omani officials have arrested journalist Abdullah Habib, on fees concerning “state public order,” Yousef al-Haj of Azamn, web activist, and Mansour al-Mahrazi, who revealed two books on government corruption and who was, consequently, sentenced to 3 years in prison in Might 2017. Hassan Al-Basham, an internet activist, was targeted and sentenced to 3 years in prison for “utilizing the web in what is perhaps prejudicial to spiritual values” and “insulting the Sultan.” Just like other journalists and activists’ state of affairs, Al-Basham was deprived of primary medical supplies in prison and died in prison in April 2018 as a result of a scarcity of medical care offered by prison authorities. She concluded by urging the Council to put the UAE and Oman on its radar and to take action earlier than the state of affairs in both states worsens.
Nabhan Al Hanashidirector of the Omani Centre for Human Rights, defined that human rights activists are continuously beneath menace in Oman and that respect for human rights continues to deteriorate in the country. He said that Oman is a monarchy with absolute energy in the arms of the monarch. In this nation criticizing the regime or the government performance is a criminal offense which is punished harshly. Al Hanashi said that in the previous few years many social activists have been arrested and their houses demolished because of their political activism or civic engagement for political change and democracy. He additionally underlined that peaceful meeting is forbidden by Omani legal guidelines and the creation of political events or human rights organizations isn’t allowed.
Then, Al Hanashi gave area to Khalfan Al-Badwawi, an Omani political activist who lives at present in England, as a political refugee. He said that Omani authorities arrested and kidnapped him on a number of occasions on account of his political activities. His comments targeted on the apply of enforced disappearance to silence dissent and criticism of the Omani rulers. He noted that free expression isn’t allowed in Oman, and that civil society is pressured to reside underneath a condition of fixed terror, where even criticizing the regime is a criminal offense. Al-Badwawi then concluded his remarks by noting that daily the area for democracy shrinks. He said that there’s a type of “scheme” that authorities have been using to repress dissent: civil society targets are recognized, arrested, tortured, interrogated and released. And he was one of the victims of this continuous cycle of arrests, tortures, interrogations and releases.
A interval of questions and solutions followed, relating to regional similarities and how civil society organizations can perform and supply info in nations like the UAE, the place civil area is shrinking. Tyler Pry concluded the panel by thanking the panelists for their remarks, and thanking the audience for their consideration.