JOHANNESBURG – Global civil society alliance CIVICUS calls on the United Arab Emirates to immediately release human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor ahead of his 54th birthday on 22 October. Mansoor has spent the last six years in prison as the last activist in the UAE to speak publicly against abuses by the Emirati government.
“Ahmed Mansoor should not spend another birthday behind bars,” said CIVICUS Advocacy and Campaigns lead David Kode. “There is no justification for his imprisonment. The UAE authorities should release him immediately.”
Authorities arrested Mansoor in 2017 in the dead of night at his home in front of his wife and four young sons. Over a year later, they handed him a ten-year prison sentence after unjustly convicting him of “publishing false reports on social media” and “insulting the prestige of the UAE.” The convictions are clearly retaliation for Mansoor’s peaceful human rights work, including his attempts to publicise the flawed trials of other UAE human rights defenders. For the majority of the last six years, prison officials have kept Mansoor in solitary confinement without even a bed or running water.
“Mansoor’s imprisonment has nothing to do with the rule of law and everything to do with UAE’s fear of peaceful dissent and free speech,” said Kode. “The harsh treatment he has endured amounts to torture and must stop now.”
Mansoor is a member of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights Advisory Board and the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division. In 2015, he won the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for his courage defending human rights in the UAE. CIVICUS recognizes Ahmed Mansoor as part of the Stand As My Witness campaign, which advocates for the release of jailed activists and human rights defenders worldwide.
The UAE, due to host the UN COP28 climate conference this year in Dubai, is one of the most restrictive countries for human rights defenders, activists and journalists. The CIVICUS Monitor, which assesses civic space worldwide, rates the country as “closed,” its worst ranking. Dozens of human rights defenders, academics and bloggers are in prison in the UAE on bogus convictions, including many held beyond their sentences. Others have fled to exile to avoid reprisals.
“The UAE is using COP28 to whitewash the fact that it treats human rights defenders like criminals,” said Kode. “For this year’s COP meeting in Dubai to have any legitimacy, Emirati leaders should free Ahmed Mansoor and all other activists behind bars.”
CIVICUS is the global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. A worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity. We were established in 1993 and since 2002 have been proudly headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with additional hubs across the globe. We are a membership alliance with more than 15,000 members in more than 175 countries.