UAE: Ahmed Mansoor, unlawfully detained in solitary confinement for three years, must be released

The United Arab Emirates should release Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights activist who has been held in solitary confinement for three years today, Amnesty International and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights said in a new joint letter.

Mansoor is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence after being unfairly convicted in May 2018 of the offence of “insulting the status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols including its leaders” in connection with his peaceful human rights activism, including posts on social media.

The organizations are calling for Mansoor to be immediately and unconditionally released from solitary confinement, and given a bed, books, adequate medical care, and regular access to his family,

“The prolonged imprisonment of Ahmed Mansoor, who has now spent three years in solitary confinement, is the real indicator of the UAE’s proclaimed role as an ‘incubator of tolerance’,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

When authorities punish individuals in such a cruel and enduring manner for simply exercising their right to freedom to expression, their talk of ‘tolerance’ is nothing but deceitful.
Lynn Maalouf

Background

Mansoor is being held in solitary confinement in an isolation ward in Al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi in dire conditions. Since his arrest three years ago on 20 March 2017, he has only been permitted to leave his small cell for a handful of family visits, and only once allowed outside for fresh air in the prison’s exercise yard. In protest, he has been on two separate hunger strikes which have seriously damaged his health.

In February this year, more than 60 civil society organisations, writers, and Nobel laureates appealed to the UAE authorities to free detained human rights defenders during the Hay Festival Abu Dhabi. The joint letter was signed by Nobel laureates Wole Soyinka and Ahmed Galai, intellectual Noam Chomsky, British author Stephen Fry, and Egyptian author Ahdaf Soueif.

By detaining Mansoor in such appalling conditions, the UAE authorities are in violation of their obligations under the Convention Against Torture and Principle 6 of the Body of Principles, as well as Article 2 of the UAE’s Code of Criminal Procedure.